DRT Chairwoman Ellen Huntingdon addresses a crowd of business owners and local leaders Thursday night — Mark Brennan/Siuslaw News
The City of Florence may be featured on season three of Small Business Revolution’s “Main Street” TV series. In order to increase Florence’s chances beyond the top 10, the Downtown Revitalization Team (DRT), a committee of the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, held a showing Thursday night at City Lights Cinemas, where people were encouraged to ask questions.
DRT Chairwoman Ellen Huntingdon introduced the series to the nearly full Theater Four at City Lights.
“I was blown away by the energy and enthusiasm that I saw,” Huntingdon said. “I did not expect a packed theater, and I am truly moved by the dedication of this community.”
DRT invited the public to attend the informational meeting one week before Small Business Revolution conducts a site visit next week. City Lights played two episodes of the web series, which is available to stream on Hulu.
“It was a very exciting event, and inspiring for me to see how far the word has spread and how energized our local community members and business owners are,” Huntingdon said. “Last night I saw a packed theatre filled with local leaders eager to take their business to the next level. That hope and desire is a very powerful thing, and this is what could boost us into the top five.”
Early in the selection process, local businesses were encouraged to fill out a short survey about their business and Florence. Now, everyone in the community is invited to engage in a social media campaign to boost awareness of all that Florence has to offer.
“Get on any social media account and share what you love about working, living or owning a business in Florence, with the hashtag #MyFlorence and tagging @smallbizrev,” Huntingdon said. “You just need to talk about the town you love.”
During the site visit starting Jan. 3, representatives from the Deluxe Corporation and Small Business Revolution will tour Florence and interact with potential businesses.
Huntingdon said, “The main event to participate in will be the welcome reception for Deluxe next Wednesday. The goal of this reception is to gather the town together so they can get a feel for the community. Since they are only here for a very short time with a packed schedule, they’ve found that these town gatherings are the most helpful portion of their visits to show them who we are.”
The reception will be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St. All are welcome to attend.
In addition, DRT is asking Florence business owners to be open and in their place of business during Deluxe’s tour of Florence on Thursday, Jan. 4.
“We are starting our tour at 9 a.m., so if storefronts could be lit at that time, that would create a nice welcoming environment for them,” Huntingdon said. “That is a great opportunity for business owners to meet and talk with the representatives from Deluxe if they stop in.”
She said that Small Business Revolution is looking for businesses that show a need and desire to take their business to the next level. In addition to this, they are also looking for interesting stories to share.
If Florence is selected as the featured town for “Main Street” season 3, six businesses will be selected through an interview process by Deluxe to receive a portion of $500,000 for physical improvements, design assistance, business planning advice, interior decorating or other technical assistance as needed.
The majority of the six businesses selected will likely be within what is considered to be “downtown” Florence, or the Florence Urban Renewal District. This encompasses Historic Old Town Florence, with district boundaries of the Siuslaw River to the east and south, Kingwood Street to the west and Ninth Street and Highway 126 to the north, with some areas extending slightly beyond.
“However, Deluxe has chosen businesses outside of main street for season 1 and 2, so any business within the Florence area may be eligible,” Huntingdon said.
After the site visit to Florence, the Small Business Revolution team will visit Martinez, Calif.; Siloam Springs, Ark.; Aberdeen, S.D.; Bastrop, Texas; Americus, Ga.; Alton, Ill.; Brainerd, Minn.; Amesbury, Mass.; and Exeter, N.H. From there, the selection team will pick the top five cities. In mid-February, the series will open a public vote to ultimately choose the winning town.
For more information, visit ellenhuntingdon.wixsite.com/florencedrt or contact Huntingdon at [email protected] or 541-902-1509.