Editorial: What should our region be called?

We recently asked for letters to the editor with suggestions for a new name for this region, but now you can easily post your idea and reasons for it at a website, nameourregion.com, established through a regional rebranding effort.

The governments of Johnson City, Kingsport, both Bristols, both Washington counties, and Sullivan County issued a joint press release explaining the need for a regional identity and how the process of creating one will unfold. Six quasi-governmental organizations are also involved in the endeavor — the convention and visitors bureaus of Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol, the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association and NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership.

They ask, “What do you think of when you think of home? Our mountains, our history, all our people with unique stories — all of that’s home. It’s hard to put a name to, but that’s why we’re here. We want to create a name for our region that evokes all of that pride and common experience — that sense of home — not just for the people that live here, but for people who might want to visit, start a business in or move to our region. We want a name that honors what we have and invites others to come share and help grow it.”

We went through the process nameourregion.com, which you may begin by selecting “Step 3: Take community survey here” on the home page. After some preliminary questions about a map showing the region, you’ll be asked what you think is the best name to describe it and why. We suggested Appy Gateway, because after the 1790s when Daniel Boone and his men expanded a Native American pathway from Kingsport to the Cumberland Gap to accommodate wagon traffic, between 200,000 and 300,000 migrants passed through this region, which was in fact the gateway to the West.

We think the word “Appy” further identifies it and provides a bit of snap for the brand.

As you move through the survey you’ll be asked your opinion about five other names, whether you think they are effective, ineffective or should be modified. They are: Tri-Cities, Appalachian Highlands, Mountain Empire, Mountain South, and Overmountain.

We don’t like any of them. There are dozens of communities in America using the Tri-Cities brand, and the other suggestions span multiple states and do not localize this region. We think whatever brand succeeds must geographically point to the region. But perhaps you’ve got a better approach. You can be part of this process by visiting the website and offering it. Your help is needed to help us rename ourselves. That first impression of the region is critical because it can create an emotional connection and an expectation of an experience without which there may be little desire to know more.