MATEWAN – Twenty six Matewan-area business owners and leaders recently met for a roundtable to talk about perceptions of the town and ways to improve tourism and economic development in the years to come.
A team of strategic communications students from West Virginia University in Morgantown and the Matewan Community Branding Committee hosted the roundtable on Thursday, Sept. 24. The purpose of the discussion was to gather opinions, perceptions and attitudes about Matewan, its image and attractions. The research is a part of a Benedum-funded Community Branding Initiative at the Reed College of Media at WVU. Led by Dr. Rita Colistra, associate professor and project director for the Initiative, the student team will work with Matewan throughout the fall semester to create a branding plan for the community to implement.
“The discussion gave our team a better understanding of just how much these business owners love their community,” said Chelsea Betts, one of the team’s research directors and WVU graduate student. “They are passionate about Matewan’s special charm and want others to see that, too. The information they shared with us about what makes their town special will help us as we move forward in creating the branding plan.”
Businesses owners and town leaders discussed topics such as the importance of the Matewan downtown area, the community’s greatest assets and challenges, and their opinions of visitors’ perceptions of the town. The strong attendance at the roundtable suggests that the town’s leaders are committed to working together to improve their community.
“I have been in this town for twenty one years and now I see that the community is really coming together,” said Kathy McCoy, a member of the Matewan Community Branding Committee. “We are not only seeing people who have recently helped with previous efforts, but new faces and even some faces that we haven’t seen in a while.”
In addition to the recent roundtable, the branding team is conducting a Matewan-area focus group for community members on Monday, Oct. 5, at 6 p.m. Space is limited, and an RSVP and confirmation is required to attend. Those interested in attending should contact Chelsea Betts by Oct. 2 at 302-249-6732, or by email at [email protected] Matewan-area community members are also encouraged to take an online survey that is available at the Historic Matewan (Official) Facebook page.