Towns try to keep names on the map
Newark, N.J., the largest city in the state, was one of 12 cities that recently lost its U.S. postmark. For that city, the slight likely will have little economic impact. However, many smaller cities and towns depend on notoriety and image to survive.
The U.S. Postal Service eliminated the postmarks as part of a consolidation of processing centers, which began last year. The removal of Newark’s postmark is mostly a small loss of notoriety for the city of more than 280,000, says Deputy Mayor Stefan Pryor. “We prefer that Newark remain in the public eye,” he says.
For smaller towns, name recognition can play an important role in economic development, says Dolores Palma, a consultant for the Washington-based National League of Cities’ “America Downtown” program, which helps small towns and cities create development plans for their downtown areas. About 60 percent of the 110 cities in the America Downtown program have populations under 7,500.
Small towns do not have to be nationally known, but a good image regionally and statewide is beneficial. Having downtowns where businesses thrive is especially important. “Cities with healthy downtowns that have a good image are much more able to attract not only business prospects but [also] residents,” Palma says.
Tonopah, Nev., a mining town of approximately 2,900 and the Nye County seat, was founded 107 years ago and, since World War II, has been home to a military aircraft testing range. However, in the 1990s, the town started to decline economically.
But Bob Perchetti, head of the town’s mural and monument committee, has a plan to help revitalize downtown Tonopah. He wants to build a museum dedicated to eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, which he hopes will draw tourists to the town. Hughes married actress Jean Peters on Jan. 12, 1957, in Tonopah.
The Tonopah Development Corp. (TDC) has been working with the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) to develop the Tonopah Star Trails campaign to attract stargazers to the town, which has one of the darkest skies in the U.S., for nighttime hikes. NCOT has worked on similar tourism promotion campaigns for other small towns in the state. “[The campaigns] are so people will stop and stay longer [rather] than [just] to fill up their gas tanks,” Eason says.
Nearly 500 rural Georgia communities could lose visitors since the state’s Department of Transportation (GDOT) excluded them from its 2007 state map in response to motorists’ complaints that excessive type made the map difficult to read. After several residents complained, GDOT agreed to restore the communities in next year’s map.
Although the communities are unincorporated, many hold historic significance, says Dennis Holt, president of the community association for Hickory Level, one of the excluded communities. And, historic attractions draw tourists, an important part of Georgia’s economy, Holt says. “If [officials] are going to take things off of the map, they should take [the economic impact] into consideration,” he says.
Cutting the community names off the state map makes Carroll County, where Hickory Level is located, look empty and therefore less attractive to some developers, says the State Rep. Tim Bearden, who represents the county. “[Developers] may or may not want to move out there,” he says.