On November 15th, the spotlight shone once again on the City of Marietta – this time, as a semi-finalist in The Small Business Revolution on Main Street contest, where the city has a chance to win a $500,000 makeover and be featured in an 8-episode series on Hulu in 2017.
The Small Business Revolution was created by Deluxe Corporation in 2015 to share stories from small businesses across the country because they believe that small businesses are the future of America’s economy. “More than 50 percent of the employed population works at a small business,” their website cites. “Entrepreneurs and small businesses have generated more than 65 percent of net new jobs in the past two decades. And 543,000 new small businesses start each month.” In 2016, Deluxe took Small Business Revolution a step farther by creating the Small Business Revolution on Main Street. The first recipient was a jubilant Wabash, IN who now has the SBR team to thank for an economic and aesthetic transformation of their city’s downtown.
The City of Marietta was nominated by Laura Pytlik, owner of a local boutique shop, Wit & Whimzy in downtown Marietta. “It was an easy task to nominate Marietta, from describing how the business community works together to describing our many festivals and events that draw thousands of visitors each year,” Laura explains. “Thanks to the dedication and passion of the merchants and business people, Marietta has a vibrant downtown that is the envy of similar cities.” After Laura’s nomination caught their eye, the Small Business Revolution team asked her to complete a second application, and then interviewed a handful of business owners and community leaders, including the Executive Director of Marietta Main Street, Cristie Thomas.
“Of course, I am thrilled at the prospect of our downtown being showcased through a short film series on Hulu and receiving $500,000 for revitalization in our Main Street district, primarily through small business development,” exclaims Cristie. “It affirms what I believe in so dearly, that downtown Marietta is a gem with every drop of potential at our fingertips. Perhaps what is most exciting for me personally, though, is the overt confirmation of the hard work, strategic planning, passion, and faith exhibited by our dedicated downtown merchants and property owners over the past decade and beyond. Our small businesses have fueled what we now get to celebrate as Marietta Main Street with a Main Street district where the investments made in downtown grow the success of our community as a whole. I hope each and every one of our downtown businesses feel that this honor of being shortlisted by Small Business Revolution is theirs to hold on to and celebrate together.”
Marietta was selected as one of eight cities shortlisted, out of more than 14,000 applications. Other chosen cities include Georgetown, SC, Bristol Borough, PA, Woodland Park, CO, Frostburg, MD, Red Wing, MN, North Adams, MS, and Kingsburg, CA. The Small Business Revolution team’s next step is a visit to all eight cities – to get a feel for their downtowns, meet business owners and community leaders, and assess needs. The team will arrive in Marietta on Friday, January 6th, just in time for the first First Friday of the new year, and visit business owners downtown throughout the following Saturday. The finalists will be announced on February 9th, followed by a week of public voting. On February 16th, the winning city will be announced.
“It’s exciting that the Small Business Revolution team recognized Marietta’s special qualities and see the potential for the city to become even more successful,” Laura says. “Hopefully their visit in January will convince them that Marietta is worthy of being a finalist.”
If Marietta is voted the winning city on February 16th, local businesses would be able to apply for a portion of the $500,000 grant. Six businesses would receive a portion of the grant, while the remaining funds would be directed to public spaces and additional downtown revitalization projects. To get a feel for what this program has been able to accomplish, you can watch episodes from last year’s series in Wabash, IN.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Marietta, and could have a big impact on small businesses and the city itself. It would be gratifying to see hard working, dedicated people receive expert advice and financial assistance from Small Business Revolution–it could be the difference that helps a business achieve true success,” Laura hopes. “I’m thrilled that the judges saw some of the same qualities we see in Marietta—the sense of community, the historic charm, and the potential for Marietta to become a true destination.”
What can you do to get involved?
To start, follow Marietta Main Street on Facebook and Instagram for updates and future volunteer opportunities this winter. Engage your networks to share this incredible news and help grow our community pride. Submit Letters to the Editor to ensure that our entire region has the necessary important dates and can share in the excitement. Come downtown on January 6th for First Friday to welcome the Small Business Revolution team. If you have access to public message boards or signs, considering promoting “Welcome Small Business Revolution!” the weekend of January 6th-8th.
Of course, it’s always a great idea to support our local small businesses year round by following them on social media and patronizing our independently owned shops, restaurants and services as much as possible! This Saturday is Small Business Saturday and a perfect day to kick off your holiday shopping in our downtown communities. Challenge yourself by participating in our Shop Small MOV Passport this holiday season and you could earn a super cozy Shop Small long-sleeve tee, too!
Regardless of the results next February, we can all be incredibly proud of our community for being recognized on a national level as an outstanding downtown with an active Main Street program – and that alone is worth celebrating!