NASHVILLE — Town residents, civic leaders and local government employees and officials gathered earlier this week in the Nashville Town Council chamber to help craft statements to attract future businesses and residents — and to improve on what already is in place.

State Commerce Department experts will take the different statements and use them to come up with a single statement, with economic positioning verbiage blended in. The statement will help guide strategic planning in Nashville for at least the next five years.

Slightly more than 40 people in groups of six on Tuesday evening brainstormed for slightly more than two hours. Their work included stating what they believe are the town’s economic drivers, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

Each group next prepared the statements, with a representative of each group reading aloud their group’s respective finished product.

Starting with table four, town Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Director Marguerite Bishop read her and her fellow participants’ statement: “The original Nashville — the county seat is the gateway to safe, small-town family living, fine dining, economic opportunity, fun and fellowship. Where else can you get a Nashville address so cheap?”

Next was table six, with Nashville resident Jeff Dodson reading aloud his and his fellow participants’ statement: “The original Nashville is a charming town, central to the economic, industrial and residential growth in eastern North Carolina — a safe and affordable place to live and do business, focused on growth from outside by our values from within.”

At table three, town Manager Randy Lansing read aloud his and his fellow participants’ statement, which was in a bullet format: “The original Nashville. Easy living. Something for everyone. Small-town charm. Home of the Blooming Fest. Small business-friendly. The town small business will love. Come for a visit — stay for a lifetime.”

The latter part of the statement drew “ooohs” and “awws” from the rest of the gathering.

At table two, Battalion Fire Chief Robbie Bobbett read aloud his and his fellow participants’ statement: “Nashville is the original of them all, the gateway to eastern North Carolina, the governmental hub of Nash County and a business community where modern innovation and hometown charm come together. Nashville has great family values where you can ‘Live the good life.’”

At table five, Christine Ricci, who teaches biology at Nash Community College, read aloud her and her fellow participants’ statement: “The original Nashville is the pathway to local living and Southern hospitality. It is a welcoming community that leads to the beautiful coastal towns of North Carolina and the breathtaking mountains of our west. Your visit will feel like your home away from home.”

At table one, Nash County Retail Economic Development Director Susan Phelps read aloud her and her fellow participants’ statement: “Uniquely located at the crossroads of metropolitan and rural North Carolina on I-87, the original Nashville, as the gateway to Down East, offers a comfortable living environment, centered around community and Southern hospitality. As a place to live, work and play, come and create your future.”

Phelps also read aloud an honorable mention as a potential tagline for the future: “Nestled between the high mountain tops to God’s ocean blue, Nashville is the place for you.”

Earlier during the gathering, the participants stated in detail what they believe are Nashville’s economic drivers. They include agribusinesses, current businesses and industries, the Nash County administration building, Nash Correctional Institution and the public schools.

The participants stated in detail what they believe are the town’s strengths. They include Southern hospitality, proximity to major highways and Raleigh, a low crime rate and a low cost of living.

Bishop’s group drew some laughs when Bishop showed her and her group’s list of strengths included a positive perception, Nashville pride and the town not being Rocky Mount.

The participants stated in detail what they believe are the town’s weaknesses. They include a lack of available housing, a fear of growth, the lack of a hotel, the lack of parking spaces downtown and the lack of a downtown nightlife.

The participants also stated in detail what they believe are the town’s opportunities. They include the presence of available industrial park sites, empty buildings as potential future businesses and spaces above downtown shops as potential future residences.

The gathering was led by Bruce Naegelen, a rural planner with the commerce department who works in the north central region of the state.

A participant in the gathering was Andrew Stocks, a Nashville native who is a civil engineer in training.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to meet more on a discussion level with some of our local officials, more people that I live down the street from and really haven’t had a chance to get to know,” Stocks told the Telegram. “It’s a good vision for what we’re doing with our future in the town of Nashville — and it felt good to have an input in where we’re going.”