Amid tears and cheers, a small group of Georgetown business and civic leaders gathered at the Coffee Break Café on Front Street found out at 7 a.m. Thursday that their community was one of the five finalists for $500,000 in goods and services to revitalize Front Street and the town’s central business district.
Also on the list are Bristol Borough, Pa.; Kingsburg, Calif.; North Adams, Mass.; and Red Wing Minn. Georgetown, with just under 9,100 people, is the smallest community among the finalists.
The winner will be determined by a public vote.
“This could be a tremendous shot in the arm,” said Beth Stedman, president of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce. “This helps increase Georgetown’s visibility on a national stage.”
Mayor Jack Scoville was equally enthusiastic. “We’ve got to rally the troops,” he said, urging people to go to the Facebook page, SmallBusinessRevolution.org, and vote.
“This would bring people downtown,” said Debby Summey, who runs Strollin’ on the Sampit, a one-hour walking tour of the historic district. “This is just great.”
Lee Padgett, who nominated his hometown for the competition, spent the minutes before the announcement pacing outside “I don’t know what town I would support if we don’t make it,” he said.
In his nomination letter, Padgett said that “If any town in America deserves this, it’s Georgetown. We’ve gone through a lot in the past four or five years, but our community has come together to bounce back.”
When Georgetown was announced as a finalist, he stopped and stared at Michele Overton’s tablet, then wiped the tears of joy from his eyes.
Overton, president of the Georgetown Business Association, and the association spearheaded the effort to put Georgetown on the list of eight semifinalists. When she heard Georgetown, South Carolina, listed as a finalist, she leaped from her seat at a small table in the coffee shop, raised her hands in the air, and then quickly sat down and starting spreading the news to the community..
“We encourage everyone to vote and hope they will do so daily throughout the contest, because we believe Georgetown is the best small town in America,” Overton said in a news release.
Vann Tucker, who owns Tuck’s General Store, a Front Street business that features gifts, jams and jellies,, sandals, palm leaf hats, nostalgic candy and sundries, said if Georgetown wins, he would take advantage of the opportunity to develop a marketing plan, to better showcase his inventory.
Businesses in the wining town are eligible for marketing services delivered by a team of small business experts from Deluxe Corp, led by Amanda Brikman, the corporation’s chief brand and communications officer and Robert Herjavec of “Shark Tank.”
The town and its businesses will be featured in the second season of ‘Small Business Revolution – Main Street.”
People can vote once daily from up to three devices or web browsers through 9 p.m. Feb. 16. The website to vote -- SmallBusinessRevolution.org.—also features videos of each of the finalists.