Brewton is 'City of Champions'

Published 6:07 am Wednesday, December 18, 2002

By By BILL CRIST - Publisher
Brewton, The City of Champions. That has kind of a nice ring to it, don't you think?
As cities and towns work to develop their retail base, they often work hard to lure out-of-town shoppers. A key to marketing themselves outside of the immediate area, is to develop an identity. In addition to providing a geographic reference, nicknames can help create that identity, and to set a tone for what visitors can expect. A couple of examples are The Big Apple and The Big Easy. Most of us know those names refer to New York City and New Orleans respectively.
According to Webster's Dictionary, nicknames are usually descriptive names, but ones that have a meaning attached. When it comes to Brewton, the moniker certainly fits. We're the home of the defending state champions in girls' basketball as well as football, after last Saturday. Outside of the schools, and all the recognition they bring our area, Brewton has also been recognized as one of the best 100 small towns in all of America.
Since we've established that Brewton is a city of champions, the next step is to use that as a tag line on all of our promotional materials. We need to publish it in the newspaper, broadcast it on the radio and television stations. When people enter town, they need to see a sign with our new nickname, as well as see it on the message center. Who wouldn't feel good just knowing that they'd entered the city of champions?
And while it might be easy to take the name as a little "over the top," sometimes that's just what is needed. As it stands right now, Brewton is known for many things like our Blueberry Festival, historic downtown area, large homes in nice neighborhoods and our timber industry. Each and every one of those features is an important one and at times each can be a driver for economic development. But if Brewton wants to continue to grow and prosper, it's going to take an ongoing, concerted effort to get us there.
I've written at length about the positive impact that the Downtown Open House had a couple weeks ago. The effects of that effort will be felt for years to come as the event grows and more shoppers and visitors are attracted from out of town. A couple of the merchants have told me that one of the reasons they think the event was so successful was because rather than each of them trying to promote something on their own, they each pitched in and worked toward a successful group event. They realize that what is good for downtown as a whole, is good for them individually. The same applies to merchants located in other parts of town and the clusters they are located in. And on a larger scale, it applies to all of Brewton.
The party's over, though, and it's time to get back to work on the underlying issue of growing the retail sales base in Brewton. That means Brewton's merchants and economic development team needs to put their heads together and develop a plan for recruiting new retailers and the shoppers they will bring, to our city. What those businesses are going to be looking for is a market where they are reasonably sure they will find success. That success is measured in one way, and one way only - what's inside the cash register at the end of the day.
As we're talking to those businesses about coming to Brewton, though, we want to instill them with confidence that will find success here. That this is a positive, upbeat town where individuals, businesses and organizations can find success and prosper.
Deep down, many of us carry that kind of pride about our community. As the young men who took the field last Saturday showed us, it's okay to celebrate that success and accept the recognition that comes with it. It's time to recognize that Brewton isn't like other towns. We're a notch above. We're champions. It's time to let the world know that Brewton is now officially, "The City of Champions."
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