Small Business Revolution Crews In Area This WeekIssue Date: January 9, 2019
A 20-member team of evaluators from Deluxe Corp. will be in the Marinette, Menominee and Peshtigo area from Wednesday, Jan. 9 through Friday, Jan. 11 to view the community and visit a few businesses to help them further narrow their search for the lucky winner of this year's $500,000 "Small Business Revolution" prize.
The visiting team will include Amanda Brinkman, who co-hosts the Small Business Revolution show with Ty Pennington, from the hit reality show Extreme Home Makeover. Formal visits are planned at Forgotten Fires Winery in the Town of Peshtigo, Drees Electric in Marinette, and Prickly Pear, on First Street in Menominee.
The team will spend three full days in the area and will see a lot of people and businesses in addition to those on their list for formal visits. The team is expected to include film crews and members of the Deluxe Corporation's management and public relations divisions.
Efforts to propel the Marinette and Menominee area into the winner's circle in the "Small Business Revolution" contest have been spearheaded by Kim Brooks, director and co-owner of Wolfe Properties and Rusty Wolfe Studio in Marinette, and Keith Killen, owner of the M&M Plaza in Menominee. Brooks said she and Killen have been assisted by countless other volunteers, many of them owners of other small businesses in the area.
Brooks said when their group first tried to enter the contest they found drop down boxes that allowed listing only a city, not a community, or in this case, the twin cities of Marinette and Menominee. To resolve this, they enlisted people to send 100 nomination letters for Menominee and 100 nomination letters for Marinette. The show's producers picked up on this and allowed the nomination for a community that includes not only the cities of Marinette and Menominee but the entire surrounding area that also includes Peshtigo.
Once the community designation was settled, messages of support from the local community and stories of why people love it here continued to pour in. Support for the Marinette and Menominee twin cities community (with Peshtigo included) was so strong that, from among over 12,000 applicants, they made it into the Top 20 on the contender list, and then into the Top 10.
This week's evaluation visit is a result of being on that finalist list. In mid-February, as a result of their experiences in the Top Ten winning communities, the Deluxe Corp. will announce the Top Five, and then finally, the sole 2019 winner.
"When we make the cut, if we make it into the top 5, we will have 7 days to get as many votes as possible," an optimistic Brooks said. She urged people to contact family and friends, regardless where they live, and ask for their support. "Anybody anywhere can vote, once each day on each device," she said. Votes, as well as stories about what you find special about the Marinette Menominee area, can also be sent to #MyMarinetteMenominee.com".
"The best thing the community can do to help is to stay active on social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and use the "#MyMarinetteMenominee" hashtag," she added.
Brooks said the local Small Business Revolution group now has its own website, "mymarinettemenominee.com". Anyone not totally comfortable posting on social media can send whatever they have written in support of the local quest for the Small Business Revolution prize to that website or the "mymarinettemenominee.com" e-mail address and they will post it on line. "Between now and mid-February, the more positive messages the better chance we have of becoming the winning community," Brooks said.
After the top five finalists are selected, the competition is likely to get even stiffer, and supporting messages will become even more important.
"Then when we win, there's a really vigorous application process that businesses must go through to be one of the recipients of the funds. But all the money and improvements will happen this summer," Brooks said.
She said the filmed episodes are almost like a home improvement show. The producers select the winners, give advice on what improvements should be made and how they should be done. They video tape all of it, and do a 20-minute episode on every business that wins. Eventually, everyone will be able to watch the entire process on U-Tube or Hulu.
"You see their business place, view the owners, walk through the business. It's very educational. If you're a small business owner you can really learn a lot just by watching the process." Once the filming is done anyone can Google "Small Business Revolution," and get a deluxe site with links to whatever episodes they request.
Brooks explained the Deluxe Corporation is a 100-year-old business that formerly specialized in printing personal and business checks. With the changing business world, they changed their focus to become more of a small business services company that builds web sites, designs logos, and provides general market support. Brooks said when Deluxe Corp. changed services, they decided to invest some of their advertising efforts in their customers, and that was the idea behind the Small Business Revolution contest. Once a year they award one city, or in this case one community, $500,000. After the selection process, this money goes directly into small businesses to help them improve themselves. With the money comes advice on which improvements to make, and the publicity that results from the Small Business Revolution shows benefits the entire community.
"Regardless who wins, it's fantastic for the city, or in this case, the community," Brooks said. "In the cities that have won in the past, vacancy rates in downtown buildings have dropped from 70 percent to 25 percent in a year - it creates a lot of vitality, brings a lot of new opportunities into the area."
In connection with the Small Business Revolution (SBR) efforts, M&M Community Foundation is seeking at least 40 volunteers to go to local businesses to speak with them about this effort and invited anyone willing to help to email them at MyMarinetteMenominee@gmail.com. Executive Director Paula Gruszynski said anyone can help by watching episodes of Season 3 of SBR at SBR:https://www.deluxe.com/small-business-revolution/ liking their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.comm/mymarinettemenominee/; blanketing the community with posters and signs, and encouraging customers to check-in to their business on Facebook and leave a heartfelt message about why they do business with you, and when doing so, make sure they use the #mymarinettemenominee.
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