Help wanted: Leaders to redefine our image | Charleston Daily Mail
The speaker at the Public Relations Society luncheon Wednesday was right: West Virginians can either make long-term efforts to control the state's destiny and repair its image, or let the outside world do it for them.
Scott Carlberg, president of North Carolina-based economic development organization E4 Carolinas, said West Virginia leaders need to come up with a long-term plan to rebuild community trust and take control of its message to repair the region's image following the water crisis.
Such repair will not come by dwelling on what happened at Freedom Industries, but by focusing on the future.
"If I had one message based on looking at news stories out there right now . . . it's take control of your destiny. You've got a lot of good leaders, and I'm not seeing them work together as they should."
This is a good message for West Virginia leaders, young and old, elected and natural.
Charleston and the rest of West Virginia can be considered either as "that area with the bad water" or a strong, vibrant, naturally beautiful area that's a good place to visit and a great place in which to live and do business.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin had similar recommendations when he spoke six weeks ago at the South Charleston Chamber of Commerce Groundhog Day Breakfast.
"No one is speaking with one voice," the Senator said, lamenting the lack of consistency and cohesive messages at that time, three weeks after the chemical leak.
Carlberg and Manchin both called for leaders with strong credibility to step up and commit to a long-term turnaround strategy.
Speaking of West Virginia's natural beauty and the remote, mountain source of its water supply, Manchin said, "I want us to come out of this stronger and better. Our goal should be that Charleston, West Virginia, has the best water quality in the country."
Added Carlberg this week, "It's not a water issue. This is a city and a state re-definition right now. Tap everybody because you're all a part of it. If you are living here, then you're involved in getting to solutions."
Sometimes a leadership team is selected, and sometimes true leaders emerge. Regardless of how they form, the region needs energetic and charismatic leaders to step up and lead such a charge.
So, who's going to get it started?
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