North Adams places third in business contest

The Small Business Revolution, an organization that highlights the impact of small businesses in their communities run by Deluxe, announced the winner of their annual competition last Wednesday. While North Adams, Mass. was among the final five towns in the competition, Bristol Borough, Penn. ultimately won. This contest included over 3600 nominated communities that were all vying for a $500,000 small business investment and a revitalization process to be featured on the second season of the NBC documentary TV series Main Street.

At least eight residents nominated North Adams for the completion. “[I] nominated North Adams because of [my] love and enthusiasm for the city,” Ben Lamb, city council president of North Adams and assistant director of student life for student organizations and involvement at the College, said. The competition received a total of 14,000 nominations for the 3600 first-round communities, from which Deluxe selected eight semi-finalists. Representatives from Deluxe then visited each of these towns before narrowing it down to the five finalists.

The final five competed in a week-long voting period open to the public to determine the ultimate winner. Thousands cast their votes for five cities: Georgetown, S.C., Kingsburg, Calif., Red Wing, Minn., North Adams and  Bristol Borough.

According to the Small Business Revolution, the program has three goals in working with the winning town after the competition. It attempts to “give small businesses a boost” by working directly with six local businesses in revitalization and holding public business marketing and management seminars. Second, it invests in the improvement of public spaces, including signage, highways and billboards. Finally, it works to “renew the town’s sense of pride.”

“The expertise that Deluxe invests is huge, as it would have provided guidance and support that many small businesses don’t have the ability to obtain themselves due to things being costprohibitive,” Lamb said. “Additionally, the actual financial investment in both businesses and downtown would have done excellent things for our Main Street to make it more pedestrian- friendly and more small business-focused. That, combined with a mini-series that would really have told the story of North Adams and our small businesses, would have put the city in front of millions of people.”

Despite not winning the competition, North Adams received more celebrity endorsements than any of the other city finalists, including from James Taylor, Elizabeth Banks, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Jo Dee Messina. More than 300 news stories covered the competition nationally.

“While we didn’t win the financial investment, we won big and created an energy rarely, if ever, seen before. Additionally, we created a really strong relationship with the folks from Deluxe, and they loved North Adams, so we are already trying to find ways to work with them in the future,” Lamb said.

Because nominations are open to the public, North Adams is eligible for nomination and participation in the competition again next year. The initial nomination process begins again in September.