Jan. 6, 2018 — The Florence Events Center (FEC) was packed on Wednesday night as producers and hosts from the Hulu television show “Small Business Revolution – Main Street” came to Florence.
The event was spearheaded by the Downtown Revitalization Team (DRT), a committee of the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, and was led by DRT Chairwoman Ellen Huntingdon. The reception itself was hosted by the City of Florence.
Small business owners and community members flooded the main floor of the FEC as they dined on refreshments provided by 10 area restaurants.
“I really hate it when you schedule an event and nobody shows up,” Mayor Joe Henry joked as he spoke to the crowd. “There are at least 500 people here. It’s really amazing on short notice what’s been put together here, and that everybody turned out like this. It shows what small town America is all about, and what being the ‘premiere coastal city’ in Oregon is all about.”
Chamber Executive Direction Bettina Hannigan said, “The Small Business Revolution team was blown away by the turnout. They said that they had never had a turnout like that ever, in the last two years. Our community just blew their socks off.”
The keynote speaker of the evening was Amanda Brinkman, cohost of the show.
“This is the first stop on our 10-city tour, and you guys have set the bar,” Brinkman said to a round of applause. “There were thousands of nominations for season three (of the show). Of those thousands of nominations, you made it into the top 20, which is a big deal in of itself. Now you’re in the top 10. These are the 10 towns we get to visit and get to know better.
“We want to meet the small businesses and the community residents and find out what your needs are, your challenges, your successes, and what makes this place special.”
Brinkman and a crew from the Deluxe Corporation, who produces the show, spent Wednesday and Thursday touring the city, visiting small businesses and their owners, all the while speaking with city officials and local residents.
After the crew visits all of the top 10 towns throughout the country, Deluxe and the Small Business Revolution will whittle the cities down to the final five.
“And then the nation, and the world, will vote for who the winner will be,” Brinkman said.
The final five are set to be announced Feb. 13. At that point, the winner of “Main Street” season three and the recipient of $500,000 for its small businesses will be determined by a popular vote.
“But honestly, being featured in the show isn’t the biggest prize,” Brinkman said, “The biggest prize is the renewed sense of pride for your community, for your neighbors, for understanding how vital your small businesses are to the success of this town.”
Hannigan said, “The community just came together. I get choked up because I look at our community and I see a healing. I see a kindness in one another. I see our community rallying to appreciate our businesses and our business owners and what they do for our community. I think that even if we don’t get it — I think that we will, obviously we’re the best — but even if we didn’t, what this event did for our community will be historic. It’s going to be a milestone for our community moving forward.”
Brinkman echoed this.
“As I’ve been talking to people, and some of the notes you’ve guys been sharing and what I’ve seen on social media — you guys refer to this as a spark, and that is truly what this is. What the Small Business Revolution is meant to do is to help remind you what an amazing community you live in.
“As the towns we have visited in the past who haven’t won can attest, you have already won.”
Cameron Potts, Deluxe Corporation vice president of public relations and community management, said that all of the top 10 towns will see the Small Business Revolution team again, as the nine cities not selected for season three will get an exclusive marketing seminar with the team.
For more information, visit deluxe.com/small-business-revolution.