The city of Brunswick is one of 10 cities under consideration to be featured on the TV show “Small Business Revolution.”
The selection announced by the show Tuesday morning is the result of a community effort to nominate Brunswick for the TV series by Deluxe. The show, in its fifth season, highlights small towns and businesses that have struggled and deserve help and money to support small businesses.
Donna Davis, a local businesswoman and Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce board member, and Susan Imhoff, helped lead the initiative to nominate Brunswick for the TV show because she believes in the positive energy in the downtown business community.
“I thought there was no reason why we wouldn’t be selected,” she said.
Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey said he was “ecstatic” to learn about the selection. Harvey, in a phone interview from Atlanta on Tuesday where he was attending a conference, said the perception exists in the state capital that Brunswick is a struggling city.
“So much for the poorest city in Georgia,” he said. “The people of Brunswick have stepped up.”
Justin Callaway, president and CEO of NewCity Brunswick, said he was “very excited” about the city’s selection.
“I’m thrilled that we will have the opportunity to showcase our city to the Small Business Revolution team and, potentially, the entire country,” he said. “As the only city in the top 10 representing the Southeast, I am hopeful that we will receive support not only from our local community, but statewide and regionally as well.”
Callaway said he looks forward to working with community partners to highlight the many assets in the city and how the city could be transformed it selected as the winner.
If selected, the city will be featured in an eight-episode documentary and earn a $500,000 award for brick and mortar work and in-kind marketing for individual businesses in the community.
The next step will be for the city to host the Small Business Revolution production team when it visits Brunswick in early to mid December and convince them that the city is deserving of the investment, Callaway said.
Davis said she knows no details about the production crew’s visit in December. They could show up unannounced or provide advance notice.
Either way, Davis said local merchants and their employees should assume anyone who walks into their business could be part of the TV crew.
“We all need to be ready,” she said. “The national recognition, you can’t pay for that. Millions of people just heard where your business is located.”
Vanessa Wagner, director of business development for the Golden Isles Development Authority, said the city’s selection did not come as a surprise.
“There has been a tremendous amount of energy in the downtown and surrounding area over the last year,” she said. “It is a great example of what can happen when passionate and dedicated members of the community work together to create new opportunities for businesses and residents alike.”
The plan moving forward is for people to continue to show support for the effort by highlighting what makes Brunswick special to them, Callaway said.
“As we prepare to host the production team, take pride in your business and city and engage with leaders to be sure we put our best foot forward,” he said.
Wagner said it’s important for people to support small businesses, restaurants and boutiques, and share their great experiences with others.
“For our small business owners, now is a great time to learn more about the resources available to help entrepreneurs,” Wagner said. “Programs like 1 Million Cups, the Small Business Development Center or SCORE mentors all offer no-cost resources to help businesses grow.
Davis said a local, state and regional campaign to generate for Brunswick’s selection will planned as soon as possible. She is assuming Brunswick will be one of the five finalists selected on Jan. 14. On Jan. 15, an online vote will be held to help determine the winning city and she wants people to be ready.
“The call to action is to vote for Brunswick, Ga. on Jan. 15,” she said. “Put Jan. 15 on your calendar.”
The other cities selected are Waseca, Minn.; Spearfish, S.D.; Livingston, Mont.; Oregon City, Oregon; The Dalles, Oregon; Benica, Calif.; Bisbee, Ariz.; Xenia, Ohio; and Fredonia, N.Y.