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Unity urged around goal of marketing county to outsiders

SoVaNow.com / April 23, 2014


“A rising tide raises all ships,” Mecklenburg County Tourism Coordinator Justin Kearns said to those who attended the annual Mecklenburg County Chambers of Commerce Unity Luncheon in Chase City on April 17.

Kearns was the keynote speaker at the lunch which encourages public officials and members of the Chase City, South Hill and Clarksville Chambers of Commerce to share information about upcoming local events and to discuss the positive aspects of Mecklenburg County.

It was his way of telling the distinct communities in Mecklenburg County that they must work together for the common good if they want to see the county grow and prosper.

Kearns assured the community leaders that he was not asking them to assimilate into one homogenous town. Instead, he challenged the towns to find that one thing that makes them special, and then work with the surrounding communities to bundle those special items in a way that makes Mecklenburg County a destination for tourists.

He said, “work separately but for the common good.”

South Hill, according to Kearns, should not try to position itself as a place for leisure travelers. “It does not have the amenities these visitors want – lakes, beaches, boating. It is a gateway town where travelers stop on their way to another nearby destination.” South Hill also has amenities that fill the needs of two other types of tourists, sports tourists and medical tourists. “The question South Hill must ask itself is ‘how do I attract travelers as they are driving by?”

Chase City with its thriving art club, and MacCallum More museum and gardens, and Clarksville with its lake, need to ask a similar question, “‘how do I position my best asset to attract tourists,’” said Kearns.

Over the next several months leaders in Clarksville, Chase City and South Hill will be asked to answer the questions Kearns posed as they participate in a pilot project sponsored by the Department of Housing and Community Development to come up with a strategic approach to enliven the downtown of each community and the county.

In other news Kearns shared that the Horseshoe Restaurant in South Hill is in the final four of the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Culinary Madness, a contest to pick Virginia’s best dish. The sandwich which made it through the first two elimination rounds is the Horseshoe Restaurant’s fried green tomato BLT. If the BLT makes it into the final two, voting for that sandwich begins on Wednesday. Anyone wanting to participate can go to http://www.facebook.com/VirginiaIsForLovers and click on the link for culinary madness.

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