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What defines greatness in the Wenatchee Valley?

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The Wenatchee Valley will welcome a team of marketing experts to town this week who will help us think creatively about how we might market ourselves more effectively to businesses that want to locate here and entice tourists to visit.

This is a significant opportunity for our valley and the entire region. Building the attractiveness of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee will give visitors reasons to spend more time and money in Chelan and Douglas counties.

It gives us a chance to ponder the many things we having going for us in this valley. While there's nothing wrong with being known as the Apple Capital of the World, that moniker alone ignores the array of amenities and opportunities the two cities have to offer — Mission Ridge for skiing, Pybus Public Market, fishing, kayaking, a great museum, Art on the Avenues, the Apple Capital Recreational Loop Trail, world-class mountain biking and road cycling, hunting, horseback riding, wineries, the Foothills trail system and so much more.

For businesses looking to expand into our area, we boast a diverse economy driven by a strong agricultural presence in fruit and wheat, a growing cluster of small high-tech companies, a wine industry that is getting greater recognition, exceptional medical care and more specialists than other communities of this size. And let's not forget that we have the cheapest power rates in the country thanks to the vision of our forefathers and the leadership at our local public utility districts.

We are also a place of educational innovation. The Eastmont School District is quietly making significant strides and across the river the Wenatchee Learns project has galvanized the school district to tap the entire community to improve education.

This is also a place of visionary leaders who are passionate about the long-term health of the community, feel a strong sense of ownership in civic affairs and give generously of their time and resources. Most of us have a deep connection to the physical beauty of the land here and we couldn't imagine living anywhere else. We want the entire region to prosper, not just our own community.

There's also a strong ethic of making our communities work for everyone. Those who are struggling find support in nonprofits like the YWCA, Hospitality House, the Community Action Council and numerous other agencies. This is a place where we stand up when people are stigmatized, as evidenced by the Rotary campaign that helped change the community perception of WestSide High School.

We are blessed with having the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, the Icicle Fund, the Apple Education Foundation and other nonprofits that that have made contributions too numerous to detail.

And there's one more attribute that deserves mentioning, and it's best characterized by a quote that Matt Cadman of the Performing Arts Center of Wenatchee revealed to me as his inspiration during a recent interview. It describes the courageous nature of the people here:

"It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat" — Teddy Roosevelt.

One need only look to the extraordinary accomplishments of this region against all odds, from the construction of hydroelectric dams to curing the default on the Town Toyota Center bonds just a year ago. We don’t always rise to the challenge, but we have proven we can do it.

That’s who we are when we are at our best and I suspect that the community identity we discover this week will reflect that sense of daring to be great.

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