The makers of a little-known reality-TV series called “Small Business Revolution — Main Street” want to revitalize The Dalles. If, that is, enough people across the country also want to revitalize The Dalles.
The show, produced by the business-technology company Deluxe, is “on a mission to revitalize small towns, one small business at a time.” Various business owners in each season’s winning town receive “marketing counsel and other assistance.”
Maybe that pitch sounds a little boring. The streaming service Hulu, which airs “Small Business Revolution,” ratchets up the tension with its own description. Its series summary begins: “Small towns across the country are fighting for their survival with the odds stacked against them.”
Got your attention now? OK, the upshot is that, each season, the victorious small town gets a $500,000 makeover.
And while the series is somewhat obscure, it’s made enough of an impact to reel in former “Extreme Makeover” star Ty Pennington as co-host .
“I’ve worked on a lot of makeover projects in my career, but few have the breadth and scope of what Deluxe is doing with these businesses,” Pennington said in a press statement promoting the upcoming fifth season. “We are really helping revitalize an entire community and that is a powerful thing to be part of. I can’t wait to get back to work in a new town.”
And, again, that new town could be Oregon’s The Dalles, which is one of five finalists.
“Small Business Revolution — Main Street” points out that The Dalles has charm and historical appeal (“the town at the end of the Oregon Trail”), but its commercial stretch also has “challenges.”
“(M)uch of the commercial real estate is too large for small businesses, leaving them without viable options for a brick and mortar location,” the show’s website states. “With a population of approximately 14,000, residential real estate is also a challenge due to high demand and minimal inventory. In an effort to offset this housing imbalance and drive more locals downtown, The Dalles is hoping to convert the upper levels of its downtown buildings into apartments, ultimately making the main street more livable and walkable.”
So The Dalles, perhaps best-known outside Oregon these days as the scene of the 1984 Rajneeshee “bioterror attack,” could use the show’s help. But the Wasco County town 84 miles from Portland will only get the TV-makeover treatment if enough people insist on it.
The other towns in the running: Benicia, California; Fredonia, New York; Livingston, Montana; and Spearfish, South Dakota.
Voting remains open until Jan 21.