The Crooked Road music trail generates more than $9 million in annual economic impact for the communities along its 333-mile route, but until recently, the town of Rocky Mount was unable to fully share in the wealth. The latest episode of Save Our Towns highlights how town leaders in Rocky Mount were able to change that.

Located at the eastern gateway to the Crooked Road, Rocky Mount lacked a suitable performance venue to bring high-profile acts to town. Now, the Harvester Performance Center is bringing big names — and big money — to Rocky Mount.

This month’s episode also features a follow-up with Cleveland, the featured town of season three. Town manager Cathy Johnson has been relentless in her pursuit of community grants, and her efforts have paid off as money keeps rolling into the small town of 178 residents.

Episode three marks the debut of a new segment — Maxwell’s Number. Graduate student Maxwell Vandervliet, of New York City, who is pursuing a master’s degree in urban and regional planning, provides context on a statistic provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Save Our Towns, produced by Outreach and International Affairs, is a series of monthly video episodes designed for mayors in small-town Appalachian Virginia and other leaders who are working hard to improve their communities.

The episode's expert tip comes from Tom Fleckenstein of the Virginia Highlands Small Business Development Center, who discusses how his organization can help small businesses succeed.

Also highlighted in this month’s episode are Anita Puckett, associate professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and director of the Appalachian Studies program, and Carlin Rafie, assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. One of Puckett’s projects is to push government entities to use cultural attachment as a factor in decision-making. Rafie, an adult nutrition specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension, focuses on creating community environments that help all residents maintain healthy lifestyles.

Written by Melissa McKeown

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