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Small Business Revolution winner revealed Feb. 22

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Mitch Prescott, left, and Jerald Joseph voted in the Red wing Public Library on the final day of voting. (Photo by Samantha Bengs)2 / 3
Signage promoting the half million dollar contest could be seen throughout the region (Photo by Samantha Bengs)3 / 3

After a week of fervent online voting, the half-million-dollar Small Business Revolution contest came to a close Thursday, Feb. 16.

Red Wing was one of five finalists, whittled from a list of 14,000 cities across the country. The winner will be announced Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Red Wing moved into first place for the $500,000 prize as of an update Wednesday, the last official standing before the voting closed.

The winning city will have access to advice and marketing support for small businesses, the downtown area and broader community, according to the Small Business Revolution website. The contest is supported by Deluxe.

Megan Tsui, executive director of Red Wing Downtown Mainstreet, said the week of voting was nothing like she has ever seen.

"I have never seen the community come together like this," Tsui said. "The best part was that this gathering of support was 100 percent positive. Everyone took action and showed great pride for Red Wing."

Voting enthusiasm could be spotted throughout the region all week, with many businesses using outdoor signage to promote voting and offering discounts and contests for customers who showed that they had voted. The Red Wing Public Library and Red Wing High School opened computer labs for the public to join in the comradery and enter daily rounds of votes. Local restaurants and several businesses and community members donated pizza to voters who came to the computer labs during extended operating hours.

"The pride for our city was so evident," Tsui said. "This was all about love of Red Wing and our businesses. I hope that the businesses understand that this is all about them, and how much people love them."

Red Wing received media attention from Twin Cities television and radio stations, newspapers and professional sports teams. Commentators at a Feb. 15 Minnesota Timberwolves basketball game encouraged support for Red Wing. Other well-known Minnesota names took to social media to spread the word. U.S. Sen. Al Franken gave a plug for Red Wing on his accounts, and Red Wing native and actor Patrick Flueger posted several voting pleas on Instagram, where he has over 177,000 followers.

"Vote for Red Wing one more time and we can bring home the gold," Flueger said in a video posted Thursday.

Reveal gathering planned

Local organizers have planned a community gathering to watch the Small Business Revolution reveal the winner Wednesday, Feb. 22, at the Sheldon Theatre. The reveal announcement is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tsui said people will start to gather at 12:30 p.m.

"We want as many people as possible there showing support for Red Wing," she said. Tsui also encourages anyone interested in attending the reveal to wear red clothing to support the city.

Visit www.smallbusinessrevolution.org for more information on the contest.

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