Any community must bring in outside money to survive. It can export its labor as commuters, telecommuters, or in the form of products.
When you look at the products and services that the residents of a community can provide, there are two quick choices that can be made voluntarily. First of all, there is a range of quality from the barely acceptable to the exceptionally fine. The next choice is whether to provide a known and standard product offering that is interchangeable with everything else available on the market or to provide something unique that is not available anywhere else.
If the residents of a particular area choose to make high quality products that are not available anywhere else, they create a unique marketing opportunity and open the door to the potential for branding the products of the area so that potential consumers will recognize the area as a source of superior and unique products and services.
For example, Amish workmanship has been so superior in this part of the country that we see furniture and sheds proudly marked as "Amish Made".
In the case of Floyd, VA, there is no one type of craft that dominates, but there is a high concentration of talent in this one stoplight county. This talent produces unique works of excellent quality and much of it is based on traditional themes and values.
If the products are local, organic produce or locally produced products of unique value there is a definite possibility that good marketing will generate income for the county without sacrificing the rural character that makes Floyd what it is today.
Promoting the work of local artists and local farmers generates income which keeps Floyd green. Local businesses which offer superlative customer service and support local farmers and artists become an integral part of the sustainable economic growth machine.
Culturally oriented tourist and vacation business is coming in on us from far places, because of a perception that Floyd is unique in many ways.
The important part to keep in mind is that these people come to Floyd to find Floyd, not to buy Chinese or Taiwanese products at low prices. We need to keep a "Buy Floyd" attitude uppermost in our minds.
"Made in Floyd" should become a part of our county branding identity. If every article made or grown in Floyd County was so identified, it could create a brand awareness that would strengthen the local economy and could make news on a national and state level.
Our products are distinctive. Giving them a link to this locality adds to their uniqueness. A simple code of product integrity that artisans and producers could subscribe to would embody the attributes buyers are interested in. "Made in Floyd" should mean produced in Floyd County with care.
That would probably be enough to cover produce and all farm products, wood and wood products, as well as art and craft work of all kinds.
It could be supported by the County, but will probably occur spontaneously and be driven by some independent group that has the county’s interests at heart. I think it is an idea whose time has come.