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Jan. 20, 2021

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Camas loses to Searcy, Ark., in ‘Small Business Revolution’ contest

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
6 Photos
Camas city administrator Pete Capell, from left, joins Camas City Council member Deanna Rusch, Camas Mayor Shannon Turk and her daughter, Lanie Turk, as they wait for results at Liberty Theatre in Camas on Tuesday. Camas was one of six finalists in the running for the next season of online show, “Small Business Revolution.” The town of Searcy, Ark., was selected for the show.
Camas city administrator Pete Capell, from left, joins Camas City Council member Deanna Rusch, Camas Mayor Shannon Turk and her daughter, Lanie Turk, as they wait for results at Liberty Theatre in Camas on Tuesday. Camas was one of six finalists in the running for the next season of online show, “Small Business Revolution.” The town of Searcy, Ark., was selected for the show. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

CAMAS — Camas won’t be featured on the fourth season of “Small Business Revolution — Main Street,” an online show that gives a small town a $500,000 grant to give makeovers to local businesses. Searcy, Ark., will be featured in the season airing this fall, the show’s producers announced on Tuesday.

The show’s hosts, Amanda Brinkman and former ABC reality show star Ty Pennington, will spend six months getting to know Searcy and building the improvements. The eight episodes will air this fall.

Camas was among six finalist cities nominated to appear on the show, and the city’s business owners, residents and city officials packed Liberty Theatre on Tuesday afternoon to hear the winner announced. Downtown Camas Association director Carrie Schulstad welcomed people and talked about the campaign process as the crowd waited for the 4:30 p.m. announcement.

Those in the theater watched a pre-recorded video on the web series’ Facebook page to find out which of the finalists would be the winner. More than 1.6 million votes came in, Brinkman said in the video. After she announced Searcy as the winner, a few groans could be heard before a round of applause broke out in the darkened theater.

Campaign season

Tuesday’s news comes after a four-month campaign effort in which Camas and other cities vied to be chosen as this season’s featured small city. The Downtown Camas Association took the lead, encouraging residents to post about the city on social media.

The show is produced by Deluxe Corp., a small business and financial marketing consulting firm based in St. Paul, Minn. It began as a way to spread the word about the company’s services, according to Deluxe spokesman Cameron Potts, but it evolved into a broader downtown revitalization project. The show airs on Hulu and the website smallbusinessrevolution.org.

Camas was among 20 finalists selected in November from more than 12,000 applicants. The list was narrowed to 10 finalists in December, and the show’s producers spent January on a cross-country tour, visiting each of the cities and meeting with local business owners and public officials, before narrowing it to a final six. Camas was the only west coast city.

Randy Curtis, Downtown Camas Association board vice president, said the challenge for city leaders was to demonstrate Camas’ strength as an engaged community and a small town full of local businesses, but still highlight the ways in which the city could benefit from being on the show.

Curtis said the leaders focused on Camas’ history of reinventing itself in response to economic headwinds, and portrayed their bid as a new potential revitalization effort in the midst of challenges such as the recovery from the Great Recession and the loss of jobs at the Camas mill.

During the campaign, Downtown Camas Association and city officials both expressed hope that, win or lose, the campaign would spur increased community involvement and support for efforts to revitalize Camas’s downtown.

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