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City gearing up for visit

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Durant business and civic leaders are gearing up for a visit they hope will propel the city onto the national stage through the online business makeover show, “Small Business Revolution – Main Street.”

Program host Amanda Brinkman, chief brand and communications officer for Deluxe Corporation, which produces the show, will visit Durant January 15-16. She and her staff will be welcomed to the city with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 15 at the Student Union Building on the Southeastern Oklahoma State University campus.

Durant is one of 10 cities vying to be featured on the show’s fourth season.

In the program, small business experts work with six local businesses. The producers commit to spending $500,000 helping the businesses and community effectively market themselves. The program airs on www.smallbusinessrevolution.org, Hulu and YouTube.

After the site visits, the producers will select five finalists in February. The winner will be selected by a national online vote.

Durant Main Street executive director Stephanie Gardner is an avid viewer of the show. She filled out the initial application, along with 12,000 other community representatives, and waited. In late October, she received a telephone call from show host Amanda Brinkman, chief brand and communications officer for Deluxe Corporation, which produces the program. Brinkman told her that Durant was among the cities being considered.

Upon being notified, Gardner marshalled supporters around the city for a social media campaign to convince the Brinkman and show’s producers that Durant was serious. Their efforts paid off last month when Durant was named to the top-10 list. Gardner is quick to remind people that this has been a team effort.

“This wasn’t just me filling out an application,” she said. “It’s been an effort by many, many people.”

The other cities on the list are: Albemarle, N.C.; Arkansas City, Kan.; Arlington, Wash.; Biddeford, Maine; Camas, Wash.; Canon City, Colo.; Corsicana, Texas; Fergus Falls, Minn.; Gallatin, Tenn.; Lockport, N.Y.; Marinette, Wis./Menominee, Mich.; Morgan City, La.; Pageland, S.C.; Rock Springs, Wyo.; Searcy, Ark.; Taos, N.M.; Washington, N.C.; Wilmington, Ohio; Winchester, Ky.

Regardless of whether Durant is selected, Gardner said the process has already borne positive fruit in the city. She said people are pointing out all the good things they see in Durant. The small business community is pulling together and supporting one another more than they did before.

Durant City Manager Tim Rundel echoed those sentiments during the Durant Economic Development Council meeting this past Monday. After Gardner made a presentation to the group about the campaign, Rundel praised the efforts put forth by Gardner and others.

“This is a very good thing for the city,” Rundel said.

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