Jackson County Mayor Randy Heady was a representative of Tennessee at Tuesday’s Appalachia Envisioned Roadshow.
Heady said that the virtual event by the Appalachian Regional Commission was part of an ongoing series highlighting tourism and development for rural communities. He said that he and leaders from North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia, discussed how to rally the community in the pursuit of economic growth.
“That we can do this and if we just set our vision forward, the economic side of it, changing the dynamic of the community,” Heady said. “Changing our mental thought process from we can’t to we can.”
Heady said he sat on another panel emphasizing the importance of embracing a community’s heritage and culture. He said that Jackson County did so through the music scene, with events like the Cumberland River Music Festival.
Heady said that much of the conference centered around how small communities can take advantage of resources that are already there through tourism opportunities. He said that success from these types of endeavors comes down to having a good team.
“As we build this and more and more jobs come open, and they’re making a decent wage, you’re coming out of that distressed and at-risk,” Heady said. “So it takes a team. Not one person can do it, but I do believe that it starts with leadership and you’ve just got to have the people in the position of leadership for everybody else to fall into place.”
Heady said the work wouldn’t be possible without the leaders of small businesses, chamber leaders, industrial development board leaders, to make the vision a reality.