3Qs: Ellen Russell, Pontotoc Chamber, Main Street Association

By NEMS Daily Journal

Pontotoc recently hosted a three-day Mississippi Main Street Meeting to talk about economic development in the city and county. In addition, graphic design elements were produced to help identify and capture the unique assets in Pontotoc and to find ways to brand and market the area. Ellen Russell, director of the Pontotoc Chamber and Main Street Association, answered questions about the process from Daily Journal Business Editor Dennis Seid.
Q. Has a new branding theme been decided, and what is it?
A. After meeting with community leaders, merchants and industrial leaders, the research team presented a branding statement to clearly define the area and our citizens. The product will be a workable system we can use to promote and market our community. In November 2011 Bloomberg Business Review selected Pontotoc as the “Best Place in Mississippi to Raise Kids for 2012” after talking with people from the community and finding it was clear families are important here. Therefore the tagline: “Pontotoc – Where Family Comes First amp& We Love Every Second” was a good fit.
Q. The “Land of Hanging Grapes” has been around for quite some time. What’s the origin of that?
A. It is the more traditional and romantic interpretation of the name Pontotoc. The Chickasaw Nation has two meanings for the word: the land of hanging grapes or the cat tails that grow in marsh lands. As early as the 1900s Pontotoc was referenced to as the “Land of Hanging Grapes.” The purple bunch will not disappear by any means. It’s part of our history, but we are adding to that with an updated tagline and printing of the word Pontotoc.
We need to take advantage of the recognition in our area and also the economic dynamics to market this area. Promoting ourselves in an organized method is good for all concerned.
Q. What’s unique about Pontotoc that you’re trying to show/represent with the new theme?
A. The theme focuses on Pontotoc’s people as its greatest recourse. Pontotoc is a place where people marry, raise a family, work hard and have high values and see their neighbors as just like being family. Our community is our product and we need to capture the essence of this place.
As part of the branding statement says, “From the church pews to the halls of our schools we are raising children who are taught to serve and excel. Because of our industrious future, they can now choose to come home and start their family surrounded by family. We invite you to Pontotoc, Mississippi. The Birthplace of the American family, where family comes first and we love every second.”

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