Historic Downtown Siloam Springs moves beyond local appreciation towards national recognition for its classic beauty and entrepreneurial spirit.
Out of over 15, 000 cities that applied, Small Business Revolution chose Siloam Springs to be considered for the third season of its show on Hulu.
Siloam Springs entered the top five finalists to gain national spotlight and $500, 000 to improve local businesses. Buzzing with the news, the town pooled its resources to gain public votes during the five day voting period.
Siloam Springs is rather isolated from the bigger metropolitan cities in Northwest Arkansas, resulting in limited traffic and tourism to the big cities. Kelsey Howard, Executive Director of Siloam Springs, said that this competition has been a great way to forge necessary relationships in the NWA area.
“I love seeing entities in the Springdale, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Corridor area that are really stepping up and supporting us. This is the kind of collaboration that I want to see more of and cross promoting each other,” Howard said.
Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson has also spoken in support of the small town. Along with members of the House of Representatives, Hutchinson stood behind a banner in a video that encouraged the public to vote for Siloam.
In a press release, Hutchinson rallied support when he said, “Siloam Springs is an Arkansas gem. Its charm and entrepreneurial spirit make it a natural fit for this show. Hard-working small business owners drive Arkansas’s economy.”
The competition has also brought together the diverse businesses in Downtown and East Main Siloam Springs. Fratelli’s Wood-Fired Pizzeria, Pure Joy Ice Cream and Latino Tires are three very different businesses that were all visited by the TV show representatives.
Matt Feyerabend, owner of Pure Joy, feels hopeful for his fellow entrepreneurs. “I’m a big believer that rising tides lift all ships. I think that when other businesses get help, they all improve their businesses and their success will benefit us. Everyone is a potential customer. I want to see our entire downtown get involved. It’s a team effort,” Feyerabend said.
On Feb. 20, voting officially closed and the city of Siloam Springs eagerly awaits to see if they have won the right to be the face of the Hulu TV show. The $500, 000 revival hangs in the balance.
Win or lose, Small Business Revolution has made local business owners acutely aware of a desire to receive business help. Local comradery is surging between local business owners and will likely keep growing outside of the competition.
“If you have strong anchor businesses run by your neighbors, then you are going to experience a greater quality of life in your town. Not only do you have people rooted to your town who work there and provide employment by pouring their resources in, but it’s also good for the economy,” Howard said.
Even if the town loses, the producers have offered to come back on April 25 to do a conference at John Brown University in Simmons Great Hall. The company will potentially bring in several specialists to speak and provide one-on-one interactive business help and assistance.
While they wait for the news, Howard encourages owners to start thinking about the future of their businesses. NWA already has a lot of existing resources that help entrepreneurs in the area by offering practical services. “Startup Junkie” is a free service in Fayetteville that works to provide expert consulting for businesses.
“I’m hoping this will be a catalyst for help,” Howard said. “Whether you’re a business in downtown or east main everybody needs some help in some areas. No one is an expert accountant for taxes or bookkeeping, marketing, graphic design and merchandising. It is mind-boggling the amount of work that small businesses have to keep up with.”
If the town wins they hope to revitalize the downtown area with the allotted money that comes along with the national attention. If they lose, the city will still work to implement its 2014 plan of getting lighting and sidewalks installed in front of the businesses on East Main.
With so much on the line, Howard encourages the public to keep supporting these local businesses in this time of growth.
“It’s a lot easier to see the direct impact when it’s these small businesses. With small businesses you know exactly who you are supporting. This support is going to your friends, family, and your fellow churchgoers. These are the people that your support is going to,” Howard said.