Durant learned Tuesday night it would not be featured in the upcoming season of the Hulu series “Small Business Revolution” and receive $500,000 in downtown investment. Despite being named as one of the top six cities in the national competition, Durant was beaten out by Searcy, Arkansas, in the final round.
Despite the loss, representatives for the Durant Main Street and local partners pledged to start their own revolution and dedicated $500,000 in funding and services for local small businesses, officials said Tuesday night.
“We are counting this as a win either way,” Main Street Executive Director Stephanie Gardner said. “We have never seen anything bring the community together like this.”
In October, the Durant learned it had been nominated to appear as the focus city in the fourth season of “Small Business Revolution.” The series features Ty Pennington and Amanda Brinkman as they go to different cities across the country and give small downtown businesses a makeover and invest resources into improving the businesses.
For Durant, the contest brought the opportunity for additional investment as REI Oklahoma pledged to invest an additional $500,000 if the city won.
The next month, Durant was named as one of the top 20 contenders and beat out more than 12,000 other communities for the recognition. Durant, along with Corsicana, was named one of the top six cities in the contest earlier this month and entered into the voting stage of the competition.
In total, more than 1.6 million votes were cast in the contest, with more than 200 million impressions on social media, Brinkman said Tuesday night.
“All six of these communities should be proud not only at how they rallied community members but their beloved celebrities, legislators, entire states friends and families,” she said in the announcement video Tuesday.
In spite of not winning the final round, Gardner said she still believes Durant ultimately benefited from the contest as it brought out the best of the community and unified residents and businesses. Additionally, representatives from the show are planning to hold a one-day workshop for small businesses in Durant in early March.
Community partners, including REI Oklahoma, Durant Street, Durant Chamber of Commerce, Imagine Durant, the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center and Choctaw Nation pledged to meet that $500,000 investment.
Later this summer Durant Main Street will accept applications from local businesses and hold its own business improvement show similar to “Small Business Revolution.” Gardner said the investment will not only be in capital but also include professional services, including marketing and advertisement.
Among the sea of orange and white T-shirts at the Choctaw Event Center Tuesday night was local business owner Melissa Garrett, representing Advantech Pest Services. Despite not taking the grand prize, Garrett said she was proud to represent Durant and see the unity the contest brought out in the city.
“I think it was just awesome seeing the businesses united,” she said. “I think this was a good opportunity for Durant to get their name out there.”