A recent phone call has local boosters believing that The Dalles has made the top five for a chance to be featured on a TV show that would bring $500,000 in improvements to local small businesses.
Don Warren almost didn’t answer the call from an unrecognized number Tuesday afternoon. For some reason he chose to answer, he said, and the woman on the phone introduced herself and asked if he would agree to appear Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 10:15 a.m. on KPTV’s Good Morning Oregon.
By 10:15 a.m. that day, Small Business Revolution, a small business makeover show that airs on Hulu, will have already announced the top five small towns in the running to be featured in the show’s upcoming fifth season.
Warren, who is president of The Dalles Main Street program, the board of which seeks grants to boost local businesses, said the TV appearance “kind of feels to me like we’re going to be in the top five. So we don’t know that for sure, we’re just very hopeful.”
A watch party for the show will take place at 10 a.m. Jan. 14 at the National Neon Sign Museum, 200 E. 3rd, where backers hope to overfill the 300-person capacity ballroom.
Since December, The Dalles has been among 10 finalist towns across the U.S. vying to generate the most social media buzz about their town and the show. Oregon City is also in the running. Candidate towns are those that show potential to grow.
The show’s tagline is that it’s “on a mission to revitalize small towns, one small business at a time.”
It is co-hosted by Ty Pennington of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Trading Spaces.”
The show runs over eight episodes, and will pick six local businesses to make over, with help from business experts on everything from business branding to remodeled space to business planning.
Warren said the women he talked to said, “‘You’re doing great. You’re right up there, you have a good chance to be in the top five.’”
Denae Manion, owner of Manion Studios in downtown The Dalles and vice president of the Main Street board, was also invited to appear on the show, and has agreed to make the trip to the Beaverton studios of Channel 12. They asked for her to appear as well because she “is a small business owner with great presence and charm,” Warren wrote in an email announcing the TV appearance.
“We definitely have as much or more buzz as would be necessary to put us in the top five,” Warren said.
Once the top five are announced Jan. 14, voting takes place for one week, until Jan. 21. The vote tallies will help decide who wins the show. Also factored in will be the local interviews the show did with small business owners and civic leaders in The Dalles in early December.
The winner will be announced Jan. 28.
Online voting is being promoted through a local website called lovethedalles.com.
Voters can vote once a day for their preferred town from as many unique devices as they can get their hands on. The last town to win the show, Searcy, Ark., has a population of just 22,000 but had about a million votes.
Boosters have been encouraging people to use #thedalles and @thedalles in as many social media posts as possible.
Warren, a web developer for data reporting at UPS, created the lovethedalles.com website, which was envisioned by Todd Carpenter. Carpenter heads IT for Rebound Orthopedics, the team physicians for the Portland Trailblazers, and co-owns the Last Stop Saloon in downtown The Dalles.
Warren first learned about the contest when an email came to The Dalles Main Street program inviting The Dalles to apply.
Deluxe Corp., a small-business services provider and the creator of the show.
Warren and Manion will appear with morning show co-host Stephanie Domurat. Warren is looking forward to talking up all the people who have helped with the effort to promote The Dalles. He lauded Lisa Farquharson and The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce, which partnered to take advantage of Bi-Coastal Media’s matching money to fund radio spots in December.
Chris Zukin with Meadow Outdoor Advertising cut the time in half to give and put up five billboards around town to “advertise this great opportunity,” Warren said. He also lauded David Benko of the Neon Sign Museum, who also hosted an event Dec. 2 when respresentatives of the show came to The Dalles to talk with business owners and civic leaders.
Al Wynn at KODL has given airtime to the effort, as has Shannon Milburn at Gorge Country Media, Warren said. He thanked the Chronicle for its coverage of the push to get on the show.
Each season is eight episodes. The first is about the town overall, where it was and where it wants to be. Then the six businesses are featured in one episode each, and the last episode shows all the services and help that Deluxe Corp., which owns Small Business Revolution, provided to the businesses.
In addition to money for businesses, some community projects are also done, such as pocket parks or tree plantings.