DURANT, Okla. — Citizens gasped and cheered after a surprise twist during Tuesday's watch parties revealed Durant advanced to the top six cities in this year's season of Small Business Revolution and the nationwide race for a $500,000 downtown renovation.
People packed Open House Coffee Shop and other Durant locations on Tuesday morning to watch a livestream of a top five reveal — but were surprised when six finalists were named for the fourth season of Small Business Revolution. Show hosts Amanda Brinkman and Ty Pennington revealed during the livestream that the show would include one bonus city and announced five cities before calling Durant as the sixth to the cheers of the crowd.
Durant Main Street Executive Director Stephanie Gardner said the town came together in a way she has never seen in her more than 30 years in town.
“Everyone has had lots of energy,” Gardner said. “Right before the video started it was dead silence. Durant was named as the sixth town, so we were nervous right up to the end.”
The show, available through Hulu's streaming service, highlights six of each town's small businesses and Main Street district and the winner receives a $500,000 makeover of its downtown.
Other finalists include Camas, Washington; Canon City, Colorado; Corsicana, Texas; Searcy, Arkansas; and Washington, North Carolina. The show voting for the public to select its finalists, with the polls closing at 10 p.m. Feb. 19.
Anyone interested in voting can go Small Business Revolution's website at www.deluxe.com/small-business-revolution. The Durant homepage for the show is www.MyDurant.com/vote.
Votes can be cast once per day from each device and Gardner encouraged everyone at the watch party to start voting and using #MyDurant on social media.
Hudson Toews was one local who came to show his support Tuesday and said Durant has always had a small-town feel and since this process began it's been vibrant.
“There has been a major influx of people coming together,” Toews said. “Nothing like this has brought people together in this town on this level that I have seen.”
“Everyone has come together for this it's been great,” said Brittany Jackson.
Gardner said the community really pulled together throughout the entire process as the town was first named to the top 20 before hosting the show's crew for an enormous rally of support in January.
She said there were volunteers helping clean up the city before the producers of the show came to visit. She said businesses put up banners telling people to vote for Durant and that people were all putting in the effort to spread the word on social media.
“The excitement and pride people have been taking in our own is what made me optimistic we'd make it this far,” Gardner said. “We knew we couldn't have done anything more than we did and we made it to the finalists. Now it's up to people to get out and vote.”
She said she was also amazed at the support received from Texas.
“It's really great for all of Texoma,” Gardner said.” It's been good for tourism and really helped us put our small businesses on the map for Durant.”