Group Focuses on Both Townsend Tourism and Overarching Economic Development
Townsend, Tenn. – A group of Townsend-based business and civic leaders that formed in March 2016 – formerly known as “Townsend Together” – solidified its organizational name in recent months and has now launched new branding to represent the specific economic development and tourism interests of this gateway municipality at the Blount County entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
With a branding tagline of “Smoky Mountain Beauty. Endless Opportunity.”, the Townsend / Cades Cove Gateway Alliance (TCGA) is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, with an ongoing mission “to unify residents, town leadership and businesses toward the goal of Townsend’s growth while strengthening the community,” seeking “to support responsible opportunities in line with Townsend’s heritage, building consensus and collaboration.” The group’s logo and branding platform was developed by a team led by Mary Beth West Communications, LLC.
TCGA presented its strategic objectives in a presentation to the Townsend City Commission at its April meeting.
“Our team has invested a great deal of time and personal resources to develop a vision, with the input of our neighbors and with the guidance and expertise of our local tourism professionals,” said TCGA Chair Mark Oldham, owner of Dancing Bear Lodge in Townsend. “We are excited about sharing this vision through our new brand and also continuing our efforts to listen and gather input, which we can then execute toward an economic development work plan.”
“What we in Townsend have as a visitor destination is quite special, and the input we’ve gotten from so many residents is that we need to have preservation and conservation of our natural resources and scenic beauty as a top priority that’s balanced within the scope of our overall economic development,” Oldham said. “The community spirit of hospitality really underpins the brand. We’ve appreciated (SMTDA Executive Director) Kim Mitchell’s support as we’ve crafted our vision as well as our more near-term goals.”
These near-term goals, which Oldham said are on a three-to-five-year time horizon, include:
- A covered bridge
- Enhanced opportunities for biking (bike-friendly roads, activities and events)
- Well-conceived festivals (enhancing festival grounds and infrastructure, promotion of festival opportunities, cooperation with Blount Partnership to attract more festivals)
- Public Wi-Fi and broadband (pursuing high-speed internet via fiber optic cables through Gov. Haslam’s initiative)
- Strong, consistently maintained website
- New signage for Townsend
Among the tasks that TCGA seeks to accomplish in support of these goals:
- Aiming to be the facilitator to generate responsible enhancements for Townsend
- Attracting funds through grants to enrich the community and to foster opportunities
- Hiring an executive director to coordinate grants, manage the website and to direct activities that will enhance the overall effort
- Unifying town leadership and business objectives to enact policy and responsible opportunities
- Building resident support to help Townsend thrive
- Building the Townsend brand in partnership with the town leadership, residents and local businesses
- Attracting new businesses to the community that fit Townsend’s heritage and are supportive of the vision and mission
- Developing a campaign in conjunction with the Partnership to draw local and tourism visitors to Townsend
Among its next steps, TCGA has applied for a grant to create a “Welcome to Townsend” mural through the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Alliance is also coordinating with the Blount Partnership for the Great Smoky Mountain Hot Air Balloon Festival on Aug. 19, 2017, at the Townsend Visitor’s Center.
“We are studying other grant opportunities, including Gov. Haslam’s rural Wi-Fi initiative, which is slated to reopen in September,” Oldham said. “Additionally, we hope to work with SMTDA on how we craft the ‘message’ of Townsend. Independently, we are also seeking to raise funds necessary to create and launch a comprehensive website for Townsend, which is our number-one goal for the rest of the year. ”
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