About 70 people gathered in downtown Corbin Monday afternoon to take part in a group meeting for a branding project to increase tourism and economic development in southern and eastern Kentucky.
Greg Fuson, a Research Director with ChandlerThinks, a consulting firm based in Franklin, Tenn., provided direction for the participants and said five other similar meetings were being held around 41-county area included in the project. The meeting took place at The Depot on Main restaurant.
“We are here to get an understanding of the state from people who live and breathe it every day,” Fuson said. “We want to know what the reputation of this are is and what it has to offer.”
ChandlerThinks has been contracted through Eastern KY PRIDE to come up with the brand. Fuson said, ultimately, the company wants to provide a logo and marketing advice that could be used for advertising campaigns to lure tourists to the area.
“Our ultimate goal is, how do we connect the dots here?” Fuson said. “What do we have to offer? What’s the story to get people to want to come here and spend the night and stay multiple days and spend more money and grow the economy?”
“We will provide some creative direction and some ideas as to how to bring people here and promote the area.”
Those in attendance were broken down into small groups and were asked to fill out forms giving their impressions of the region in which they live. Some of the answers focused on southeast Kentucky’s rugged beauty, four defined seasons, tight-knit communities and cultural heritage. Others pointed out negative aspects like a perceived lack of employment opportunities or rampant drug abuse.
Fuson said all the answers are useful because they provide ChandlerThinks with a complete picture in which to work with.
He said the process to create a logo and brand story would take about six months. The “stakeholder” meetings are just one part of the process. Fuson said internal dialogue in the company, opinions from neighboring communities and surveys to residents would also be utilized.