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Shop locally effort launched

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Local officials are bringing Shop Wilson County First to the minds of every county citizen with the unveiling of new road signs and tossing around ideas Monday morning on how to further encourage people to shop locally.

District 19 County Commissioner William Glover, who is leading the effort, showed off brand new signs to a group of local business owners and elected officials Monday morning at Ponderosa Steakhouse, while the group brainstormed about ways to take the campaign to new heights.

We really need to keep the tax dollars here, Glover said, adding, It helps our tax base and it helps our local economy.

The first sign was placed at the intersection of Leeville Pike and Highway 109 in Lebanon with County Mayor Randall Hutto, Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead and Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings and Kenny Martin, Mt. Juliet economic development director, tying a ribbon to signify the campaigns goals of having local citizens keep their dollars in Wilson County.

Glover said he hopes to put up the second Shop Wilson County sign on South Hartmann Drive in Lebanon and said hes working with Jennings on a location to add a sign in Watertown. Also, Glover, Martin and Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty are working to find a prime location for the sign in Mt. Juliet.

The first 10 signs and 200 car window stickers for the campaign were purchased by the Wilson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Director Ricky Rodriguez said the effort fits perfectly in the bureaus Wilson County is the Place to Be initiative.

Were very happy about this campaign, and there are future developments to come, he said.

Sue Vanatta, president and CEO of the Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce, stressed the importance of uniting the county under this effort and making it less about the three municipalities and more about Wilson as a whole.

She suggested placing a sign at the entrance to every public school in the county, pointing out Wilson County Schools is the largest employer in the county and saying the high level of traffic means the signs will be seen by many locals.

Glover said he came up with the idea while talking with Martin and seeing signs in Martins office that promote shopping in Mt. Juliet. Glover felt the entire county needed to make a push for citizens to buy locally whenever possible.

Businesses can purchase signs to place outside their doors or in their windows to promote the initiative. Glover said the campaign cant begin strong and then taper out. He pointed out the community has to work together to keep local citizens spending in Wilson.

This has got to be something that we keep going, he said.

The campaign is not only to keep local citizens buying in Wilson County, but also to try and influence people living in other counties or other states to stop and shop locally as well. He said they hope to partner with businesses to place a billboard on Interstate 40 to encourage travelers to stop here.

He also showed new car window stickers that he hopes people will see while local citizens may be out of the county working or traveling and maybe influence others to think of Wilson County.

It makes people look at us. They may see that and think, whats going on in Wilson County? It may put Lebanon and Wilson County in their minds, Glover said.

Glover and other county leaders hoped the campaign will be an ongoing process that will expand and possibly include other initiatives besides road signs. Glover and those present at the meeting even discussed a smart card that would encourage shoppers to choose local businesses.

Helene Cash, owner of the Crystal Couture store on the Lebanon Public Square, stressed the need for a marketing campaign to help keep the initiative in the minds of local officials and local citizens. Rodriquez said he would devote time at each monthly Place to Be initiative meeting for the Shop Wilson County First initiative.

Im very proud of our county, and I wanted to have a sign that reflected that pride, Glover said.

By PATRICK HALL, The Wilson Post /

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