CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- She's barely unpacked since coming home last month, but Alisa Bailey has already come up with a new tag line for Charleston. How does "Hip, historic ... Almost Heaven" grab you?
As the new president and CEO of the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau, Bailey said she needs others to embrace the new line.
"We can sell Charleston as a safe place to visit, nestled in the mountains. You can be at Kanawha State Forest or Coonskin Park in five or 10 minutes," she said.
"To sell that, we need partners. We need buy-in from the business community, particularly the tourism business community. I think by selling Charleston to the leisure tourism community, it's going to reinforce to the business traveler -- conventions and meetings -- we can differentiate ourselves from our competition."
Even during job interviews with CVB board members, Bailey pitched the idea of setting Charleston apart. She replaced Patty Bradley, who was fired last year in the wake of the embezzlement scandal involving former director of operations Tracie Breedlove Dennis.
"I think one strategy we must employ is to brand the city of Charleston as a premier destination," Bailey said Monday. "That's what you sell, the positives of the city, and you must differentiate yourself from the competition.
"What this city can sell, we are a hub for the creative class. We're an historic city -- architecture, our churches, these are things people like to see.
"We're also hip -- Mountain Stage, the Clay Center, the Symphony. Just since I came here, we're getting ready for the Charlie West Blues Fest. And our artists. Even here in the Civic Center we have art on our walls. Art Walk on Thursdays, art galleries.
"To most people it's a small town. To me it's a pretty hip place.
"We use 'almost heaven' because we have another Charleston we're often confused with, so thank you John Denver. That differentiates us."
Born and raised in Charleston -- she's a graduate of Charleston High and WVU -- Bailey held a variety of state government and public relations jobs. She served as state tourism director until lured away to greener pastures, and a bigger salary, as head of the Virginia Tourism Corp.
But after nine years in Richmond, she got homesick. She missed her parents.
"I thought when I first went over there I would be coming back quite a bit. But I traveled quite a bit around the state, even out of the country, weekends. It's five hours door to door, but after you travel three days a week you want some time to do your laundry."
Wednesday marks her first month at the CVB.
"It's a bit like being dumped in a class V rapid, a lot going on -- summer festivals, lots of events coming in. You take a new job, you'd like to take a couple months to learn things. I don't have that luxury."
She's been reintroducing herself to the Charleston community, a luncheon speech to a women's group here, a cocktail party there. She tossed out the first pitch at a Power game Friday evening following a whirlwind tour of the Capitol.