People in small towns have long known that big things happen when a community gets behind a common goal.
That's partly what the Small Business Revolution is all about — whether you're Bristol Borough, Penn., which won the 2017 contest, or the other four finalists including Red Wing. One community won the $500,000 prize, but as nice as that influx of cash is, it's what all five communities do with the momentum created during the contest that really matters.
The crux of Deluxe Corp.'s Small Business Revolution is that small businesses drive that U.S. economy and nowhere are small businesses more under siege than in small towns. "We created the Small Business Revolution — Main Street to help those small businesses, and in turn, those small towns reignite the spark that drives them and keeps people coming back," the company's website states.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms and more than 50 percent of the employed population works at one. These firms also make up 44 percent of the total U.S. private payroll.
Small businesses have generated 65 percent of new jobs in the last 20 years, the SBA states. Consider that 680,000 new small businesses start each year.
In Red Wing, the Restaurant Challenge a few years ago and the Retail Challenge last year helped several small businesses get started. What's to stop the community from continuing such efforts? Nothing. Certainly not failing to claim the Small Business Revolution prize.
Red Wing "lost" by fewer than 20,000 of more than a million votes cast. In truth, that's a huge win.
The community got help from every sector — health and business, faith and education, arts and environment — and from near and far — residents, former residents, neighbors and their friends and family across the globe. Two of the relationships that helped push Red Wing so close to the prize are our sisters — sister cities Quzhou, China, and Ikata, Japan. Amazing and special.
We also mustn't lose sight of how this community of 16,500 has done monumental things — together. Consider the public-private partnership that restored the Sheldon Theatre. There's the Main Event, a committee that not only worked during two seasons of extensive highway construction to keep people shopping downtown — and thus prevent at-risk businesses from closing — but actually attracted more people than many merchants had seen in awhile. A few years ago, citizens created Colvill Park's Universal Playground — a $500,000 fundraising that naysayers told two mothers of handicapped children couldn't be done.
Coming off the Small Business Revolution, Red Wing could generate another $500,000 and probably more for projects and concepts, for startups and small businesses through which entrepreneurs realize their dreams and provide jobs for fellow residents.
Small businesses are the future of the American economy. People and what they can do together are the future of Red Wing.