I recently came across the online series Small Business Revolution. Amanda Brinkman, chief brand and communications officer at Deluxe, along with Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec, employed their marketing and business expertise to help six small businesses learn more about what it takes to compete in their local and regional markets.
I encourage you to check out a few of the episodes and share with others.
Wabash, Indiana, is a typical Midwestern small town full of friendly smiles, tucked in the rust belt of America. Once home to large automotive manufacturing plants that employed thousands and paid good wages, the town has been trying to reinvent itself since the industry went away. The spirit and drive of this community came through in their ability to rally votes to win the inaugural Small Business Revolution – Main Street contest in which Deluxe Corporation invested $500,000 into the small businesses of the downtown community.
Behind the smiles, the waves, the good nature, are issues that plague every small town: what do you do with abandoned buildings downtown; how do you support small businesses; and what can you do when large manufacturers close?
Amanda Brinkman, chief brand and communications officer at Deluxe, along with Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec, employed their marketing and business expertise to help six small businesses learn more about what it takes to compete in their local and regional markets. The entire Wabash journey is captured in this eight-part web series. The opening episode provides a glimpse into the community, the businesses and the town leaders. This sets the stage for the series, portraying what the community is about and where it is going. And, we learn how Deluxe plans to help them revitalize their town and its small businesses, so that together, we can create a real movement – a Revolution.
I’ve only gone through three episodes and it’s interesting to see, Belleville population 1,900+/- has the same business challenges as a larger town of 10,000.
- Aging downtown buildings
- Industry left at one point
- Providing business resources for growth phase after startup
- Creating a new identity for the downtown
- Attracting young people back
- Providing quality of life assets
- Leveraging local assets to businesses
- Utilizing new business models that bring dollars inward from outside the county
The show has reaffirmed the efforts of RCED and many of our local businesses that understand the importance of leveraging online resources to reach new markets and get consumers to town. There’s options for all business budgets ranging from free Facebook pages you can hire someone locally to build a website, do search engine optimization, and help with marketing/branding solutions.
At the bottom of the episode page they have a nomination form. I went ahead and nominated Belleville because, what could it hurt? After nominating they sent me a follow up survey for more information stating below:
Hello! Thank you for taking the time to nominate a small town for the Small Business Revolution on Main Street, championed by Deluxe.
When we see a nomination that sounds interesting, we want to collect a bit more information to help us evaluate the submission. To be clear, this does not mean your nomination is a finalist. This survey has a few more questions that we hope you’ll be able to answer without taking too much time — doing so can certainly help your nomination’s odds of making the cut…
While filling out the survey it asked for details on the
- businesses climate
- volunteer efforts
- tourist assets
- quality of life assets
- notable alumni
- recognition or grants awarded
And honestly it took me a while to fill out because Belleville has so many assets and accomplishments such as but not limited to:
- NCK Free Fair
- Midget Nationals
- Blair Theater renovation
- New municipal pool
- City park and trail system improvements
- New downtown buildings and businesses
- Main Street Program – business facade improvements and programs
- New and expanding industries
- Community support for schools such as the RCHS band trip fundraisers
- Repurposed Belleville Middle School for Buffalo Apartments
- E-Community funds for small business loans
- Rural Opportunity Zone – Student Loan Repayment Program
- Neighborhood Revitalization Program tax rebate for new construction
- The Crossroads of America at HWY 36/81
And the list could keep on going…
Even if Belleville isn’t a finalist, it was refreshing to step back and see how much the town has accomplished despite the economic changes in rural Kansas. I really believe Belleville and Republic County is lucky to have great forward thinking community leaders, businesses, city officials, county commissioners, and resource partners available to us.
If you feel inclined please nominate Belleville at the bottom of the page or share with others who could. – http://smallbusinessrevolution.org/main-street-revolution/