More than a decade ago, city officials in Pikeville, Kentucky, envisioned a future beyond strip mining. Leaders took a risk on a huge investment that paid off — an industrial park that was filled within 10 months.

In search of the town’s most marketable claim to fame, residents of Jonesborough, Tennessee, sought out the help of a consultant. In the end, the answer was obvious: positioning the town as the “Storytelling Capital of the World.”

In Williamson, West Virginia, popularly known as the “Heart of the Billion Dollar Coalfield,” town leaders are investing in life after coal.

In Vinton, Virginia, town leaders discovered that locating a new library downtown would provide a boost for other businesses.

Embracing the use of clean energy is the goal in Boone, North Carolina, where town leaders made national headlines after resolving to end the use of fossil fuels by 2050.

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