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What should we call our region?

Johnson City Press • Apr 7, 2019 at 8:17 PM

What’s in a name? Would the region we call the Tri-Cities by any other name still be home?

As Johnson City Press staff writer Zach Vance reported last week, city commissioners think a marketing firm might just be able to answer Romeo’s famous question and are willing to pay its consultants $48,000 to find out.

The commissioners contracted with North Star Destination Strategies to come up with a new name for the region comprised of Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and parts of Western North Carolina.

With economic and government leaders pushing the notion of regionalism, that is, the idea that the surrounding communities share culture, people and an economy and should join efforts to promote all of those realms, some have been searching for something new and more encompassing to call the area.

“The Tri-Cities” is too specific, they say. The region extends beyond Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol.

In a promotional video created by the three Chambers of Commerce representing those cities, they called the region “The Appalachian Highlands,” although the three board presidents behind the effort said the name was a placeholder. After they formed a regionalism working group, some members said “Appalachian” sometimes carries negative stereotypes and connotations, and technically, a lot of the land area of the mountain chain is high land.

As the Nashville marketing company works, its consultants will consider the region’s history, goals, leaders and experts to come up with a shortlist of names to be revealed later.

We think, why not ask the people who live here for suggestions? What should we call our region? What factors should be considered when coming up with a new name? How can that name best be used, and what’s the best way to convince residents to use that name?

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