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New tourism director looking to promote town’s traditions, better relationships

What Alicia Phelps admires about Jonesborough is that it’s “an area that sticks to its roots.”
The same can be said for Phelps, who started as Jonesborough’s new director of tourism and marketing just four weeks ago.
Phelps grew up in Bristol, Tenn., and has been a Sullivan County resident all her life.
“I have never once thought about leaving the area,” she said.
What’s more, she helps run her family’s third-generation beef operation farm, and her boyfriend of three years helps run his fifth-generation family farm.
“We both plan on continuing that tradition,” she said.
Tradition means a lot to Phelps, and as part of her new role, she wants to help Jonesborough promote its own traditions — in an up-to-date way.
A mass communications graduate of Emory & Henry College, Phelps worked in the college’s public relations office until hearing about Jonesborough’s open tourism director position.
“Being from the area, I’m really familiar with Jonesborough,” she said. “I come to events up here all the time.”
When she heard about the job, she said she was very excited, describing it as her “dream job.”
Phelps favorite part of Jonesborough is driving into the town, when you crest the hill at the top of Main Street, she said.
“You just look down the street and you get a storybook-type feeling,” she said. “I always get really excited to come into Jonesborough.”
That view down Main Street, she said, is like looking at the “heartbeat” of the town, at its merchants and local businessowners.
As part of her new role, Phelps wants to create a better relationship between the town and local merchants and businesses. That work also extends to recruiting more businesses downtown of different varieties to “re-energize” the area, she said.
Phelps would like to see a liaison between town officials and merchants, something she calls an “absolute need.”
Phelps, who is currently pursuing her MBA from King College, has a background in media relations, as well as graphic design. She also has experience in event setup and promotion, web design, photography, videography and advertising.
Her MBA concentration is in marketing, but she has also taken business, accounting and finance classes that help her relate to businesses and also see areas for economic development, she said.
“It’s very obvious that downtown is a vibrant hub,” Phelps said. “I’d like to work at promoting that.”