ARLINGTON – Apprehension turned to numbness as business and community members cozied up to laptops and devices Tuesday morning with the announcement that Arlington didn’t make the cut to appear on an online reality TV series.
Arlington supporters watched from home when a live-streamed broadcast announced the Top 5 – scratch that, a surprise Top 6 – finalists for Season 4 of Small Business Revolution – Main Street.
The competition sponsored by the Deluxe Corp. marketing firm drew entries from more than 12,000 towns seeking to be the sole community featured in the Hulu series, with the winner getting a $500,000 business investment makeover.
While the news came as a let down after Deluxe’s marketing team visited the top 10 finalists including Arlington, supporters who promoted the town’s entry said they’re determined to keep the momentum going for small business.
“Although we won’t be advancing to the next round, we are so grateful for our experience with The Small Business Revolution,” said Jen Egger, Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director.
“We saw, once again, that when we work together great things happen,” Egger said. “We will be taking all this energy and enthusiasm and turning it into something awesome for #myarlington. Just wait and see.”
Egger said as one of the top 10 towns, Arlington will still benefit when Deluxe returns to Arlington in May to host a free small business symposium with seating for 200. Their experts will share advice on creating a business plan, maximizing market dollars and developing a sustainable business. Details are still being worked out.
Lisa Cisneros, Downtown Arlington Business Association president and owner of Olympic Escrow, said advancing would have been nice, but great things are already happening in the business community that momentum can build on.
“This process has really helped ignite a different kind of movement,” Cisneros said. “We’ll create out own revolution within our own town.”
No sooner were the latest cuts announced, and officials with DABA, the chamber, the city and Main Street committee were already planning meetings to put in play marketing and promotional ideas that could help stir more business activity downtown.
Suzi Quillen, owner of Perfectly Knotty yarns, who originally submitted Arlington for the show last summer, said the business community has always known each other, but the competition left them more close-knit and optimistic that they can do more.
“So many of us have connected together through this process,” Quillen said. “We’ll be planning more events and activities through the DABA to keep that community momentum going.”
The final six towns chosen are Camas, Wash.; Canon City, Colo.; Corsicana, Texas; Washington, N.C.; Durant, Okla.; and Searcy, Ariz.
Co-host Amanda Brinkman, who visited Arlington in January, said the towns not moving on have nothing to hang their heads about.
“Take a moment to recognize what a big deal it is that you got to this stage,” she said. “You made it through to the top ten communities that we spent time in and got to know. The real reward is what your town just did. You control how to use that energy going forward.”
Brinkman said the show didn’t look for the best towns, but rather the ones that are at the right stage in their development to take advantage of Deluxe’s makeover and be able to leverage what comes through the process.
Co-host and home improvement icon Ty Pennington said he loves doing the show because of the impact it can have on an entire community, and the livelihood of the businesses that are passed on to the next generation.
“These small towns, because of the success of big brands and the chains out by the highway, main street tends to get forgotten,” Pennington said. “I love seeing the towns we’ve been going to, the excitement and people just going nuts.”
Quillen said she is a firm believer in the adage “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
In that spirit of neighbors helping neighbors, she and other Arlington business people encourage residents to now cast votes for the state’s only other remaining contestant, Camas in southwest Washington, at #mycamas!
The winner will be chosen by the public through weeklong voting that officially opened today; coincidentally, special election day in Snohomish County. To vote, go to www.smallbusinessrevolution.org. You can vote once per day per email address.