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Fredonia Awaits Results Of Competition

Fredonia has been competing against four other communities across the country in the Small Business Revolution Competition, and the winner will be announced on Tuesday. Photo by Mary Heyl

FREDONIA — On Tuesday at 8 p.m., the community will find out if Fredonia is the winner of the Small Business Revolution Competition at the live stream event at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House and Performing Arts Center. On Wednesday, Todd Tranum, president and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, said what Fredonia businesses — and non-profits — should know about applying for a piece of the $500,000 award if Fredonia is the winner to be featured on season five of “Small Business Revolution,” a Hulu original series by Deluxe.

All are welcome to attend the live stream event, which will be held inside the opera house and outside. “We’ll have some overflow in front of the Opera House, including a screen and sound system to facilitate that,” Tranum explained. “Doors will open at 7 p.m., but the actual live stream will take place at 8 p.m.”

Will Amanda Brinkman or Ty Pennington, hosts of “Small Business Revolution” come to the Opera House to be part of the rally if Fredonia wins? “Quite frankly, we really don’t know if we will have someone here from ‘SBR’ or not,” Tranum said. “We don’t know definitively, but it’s a possibility. I would anticipate that if we’re fortunate enough to be selected, we would see someone from the show, but there’s no guarantee.”

Although Fredonia is still days away from knowing the results of the vote, which concluded on Tuesday night at 11 p.m., business owners should start thinking about their application. “On Wednesday, Jan. 29, the online application process will begin with the business community, where they can apply to receive part of the $500,000 and be part of the show,” Tranum explained. “The $500,000 is an investment that Deluxe (“SBR” producer) will make in the projects they do in the community and the support services they give to the businesses.”

Tranum explained that the $500,000 awarded to the winning community is not a grant; rather, it is a private direct investment by Deluxe that they can invest in services, remodeling, facade work and more for the businesses that apply and are approved. “If Fredonia wins, the online application will be open from Jan. 29 through Feb. 3,” said Tranum. “We’ll be getting more information out to the community on that application in the next several days. Businesses should be thinking about what they want to say about their business, what their needs are and their background on how they got started.”

According to Tranum, businesses should take the time to create a video as part of the application. “It doesn’t have to be really high quality,” he noted. “It can be done on a phone. On camera, businesses owners should be enthusiastic, talking about their business, the opportunities they see, challenges they have and how an investment in their business can help them take the next step. They should also get video footage of the inside and facade of their business.”

These videos – though not required for the application — are “highly recommended” and can be uploaded on the application website as part of the application. “There’s no limit to the amount of Fredonia businesses that can apply for the money,” Tranum said. “They must be within the zip code of Fredonia, though.”

Tranum also recommends that Fredonia non-profit organizations consider applying for the funds, as past seasons of SBR have featured at least one non-profit. If anyone needs assistance with the application, Tranum said he can be contacted at the Dunkirk office of the Chamber of Commerce at 366-6200.

Overall, Tranum has been thrilled with the response to voting, which is the sole factor determining the winning community out of the five selected across the United States. Fredonia is the only community east of the Mississippi River in the running, and support has been widespread throughout the country and abroad. “We know we have had supporters in at least 45 states, and we know that because they set up the text reminders to vote,” Tranum explained. “We know we got votes out of Canada and many votes in Europe from people who have family there.”

Tranum has been most impressed with the local response to the voting, however. “On Monday, we had a pub crawl that started at Lil Magills with about 40 people that dispersed into the community and in surrounding communities to get people to vote,” he said.

“We’ve got to commend SUNY Fredonia, particularly Jeff Woodard, director of marketing and communications, and Interim President Dennis Hefner for getting behind this really early,” Tranum said. “Knowing students were settling back in, we went on campus Tuesday night and hit the hot spots, and I’m confident that at least four out of five students voted.”

Tranum said Jamestown Community College played an important part in spreading the word to students and faculty, too, as well as a state-wide network of approximately 250 chambers of commerce.

“We developed a really close relationship with Waseca, Minnesota, who reached out to us after they didn’t make it to the Top 5,” Tranum said. “They had a police officer who was shot during that time period — he’s still in intensive care — and we sent our prayers and support to them because we know how these things can affect a small community. They appreciated that, and they liked what we were posting as a community. Their chamber president reached out to me and said, ‘Waseca’s behind you!'”

Another community that has supported Fredonia is Bristol Borough, Pa., winner of season two of “SBR.” “When we made it to the Top 5, we requested their support, and they said, ‘We’re in!’ There’s a lot of East Coast pride brewing, and they stepped up and have been casting votes,” Tranum said.

Tranum expressed gratitude to the 1891 Fredonia Opera House for their support. “At the spur of the moment, they’ve accommodated two rallies and dropped everything to help us make those events successful,” Tranum said. “Now they’re hosting the big announcement next week and rearranging their movie schedule.” Tuesday’s screening of “Dark Waters” has been rescheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. to accommodate the rally.

“Immediately after the rally, we are inviting the community to join us for a gathering with music out front,” Tranum shared. “Regardless of the outcome, there’s good reason for the community to come together and have some fun.”

Today, the chamber will be holding the drawing for the votemyfredonia.com contest prizes, which include Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres tickets, a three-night stay in a Florida condominium and several prizes for local business products and services. “We’ll be going through all of our data and will make an announcement as soon as the winners are contacted,” Tranum said.

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