Town leaders in Erwin, Tennessee, moved from attempting to hush up the execution of a circus elephant a century before to playing up the possibilities with an annual elephant festival.

A new idea for an old mountain road is lighting an economic fire in Tazewell, Virginia. The town, whose fortunes had fallen with the coal industry, now is a destination for motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts from around the world.

Fincastle, Virginia, hadn’t changed its boundaries since 1772. But when elected leaders first attempted to expand acreage and population a few years ago, the effort stumbled. Can they create enough unity to bring growth to the town of about 300 people?

Up-and-comers in Wytheville, Virginia, weren’t happy with how things were playing out at Town Hall. This younger generation of leaders made their voices heard and are changing the face of downtown.

In Southside Virginia, the departure of textile manufacturers and other industries devastated communities including Danville. There, city leaders decided to take drastic action. They aggressively invested in workforce training and also found ways to make the Dan River a key part of a reimagined downtown.

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