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Pulaski Co. launches pride project

By BROOKE J. WOOD

brooke@southwesttimes.com

A new initiative called “Pulaski County is…” launched today with several goals.

One of those goals is for citizens to fall in love with Pulaski County all over again – or for some, to fall in love with it for the first time, according to Peggy White, executive director of the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is partnering with the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors in the progressive project to help residents remember, or see for the first time, the county’s assets.

“This is part of the IDA’s tourism efforts – but it represents a whole lot more,” Pulaski County Administrator Jonathan Sweet said this week. The campaign’s desired tangible outcomes include retaining and attracting new talent to the county, increasing tourism and encouraging local commerce, Sweet explained.

‘Pulaski County is…’ is to intended to remind us of what Pulaski County truly is, and to refocus us on all of the beautiful, amazing and unique qualities, amenities and assets Pulaski County hosts,” Sweet observed.

He added that the less tangible goals include bolstering community pride and morale, strengthening local investor confidence and reminding or showing residents just why they should fall in love with the county.

The first phase of the project has a public engagement component in which county residents are asked to participate in a photo and caption contest on Instagram and Facebook.   Contestants will be asked to complete the sentence “Pulaski County is…” with two words and a photo that illustrates those two words.

The campaign asks individuals to focus on the positive aspects of Pulaski County. The Chamber, which is overseeing the project, believes the responses will be as varied as the county’s citizens.

“We encourage everyone to participate in this initiative beginning with this initial stage, and watch for more details of the exciting and challenging things to come. We have so many positive assets, and we intend to focus on and build upon those positives,” White said.

“This is just phase one,” Sweet explained. “We will look to using all the information we receive from our citizen participants via Instagram and Facebook and develop an inventory list of our top-rated assets and then effectively rank them from top one to 25, to identify our most beloved and favorite aspects of Pulaski County.”

The county will use these entries in future marketing and tourism efforts.

“We will subsequently use what’s gleaned from the organic community input to re-brand ourselves,” Sweet added.

Sweet believes some people miss the big picture of what the county is and has to offer.

“It’s easy for folks to lose site of the trees because of the forest and become desensitized to the many amazing assets and amenities that makes Pulaski County so wonderful,” he said. “Beyond the natural assets – it’s the culture, character, heritage and, ultimately, the people – that makes Pulaski County so very special.”

Sweet observed that the ‘Pulaski Is…’ initiative is intended to refocus everyone’s attention on the county’s unique character.

“Pulaski County is a fabulous community, but it is the county’s additional capacity for greatness and further potential that sets it apart from other localities in Southwest Virginia,” he noted.  “There are many counties that are similar in nature and have very similar assets and amenities, but there isn’t another county that has anywhere near this much room for additional growth and development.”

Sweet, who officially took over as county administrator in January, said there is only one aspect of Pulaski County he would change.

“The only thing I would change about Pulaski County is the one thing I am working with the board of supervisors, IDA and the Chamber to change – and that is how too many of our citizens and critics from outside the community view our county,” he explained.

But he is optimistic that the ‘Pulaski County is…’ initiative will go a long way toward changing perceptions.

“It will help us to shift mindsets, increase moral and community pride, and help us all to fall in love with Pulaski County for the first time or perhaps all over again,” he noted.

Sweet moved his family to the Fairlawn area of the county over the summer. To the new project he added his own two words this week – “Pulaski County is… our home.”

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