August 9, 2017
The NAMAzing people of North Adams
After receiving 14,000 nominations for towns to put in the spotlight during season two of “Small Business Revolution,” we hit the road to visit eight inspiring towns that made our short list of potential finalists. Throughout summer, we’re looking back and sharing the stories of what made each town special – including guest posts from local leaders and some profiles of businesses in these communities. This is the second post, written by Suzy Helme of North Adams Tourism, in our weeklong focus on North Adams, Massachusetts.
Being chosen as short-listed city for Small Business Revolution was a thrilling experience and if the ride had ended there we’d still be talking about it for years, but we were fortunate enough to go one step further and compete as one of the final five for the opportunity to have the Small Business Revolution infuse $500k of improvements and expertise into our small business community! Our small businesses are full heart, soul, family, and history and the opportunity to have experts teach them new skills for success had everyone ready to go all-in for the win. Add to that a platform to introduce North Adams to potentially millions of people that have never heard of us… people that might fall in love like we did and move here, raise families here, build businesses here, strengthen what we already have here by setting down roots and helping us grow… this was a win-win from the get go!
We didn’t win the big prize , but in so many ways we still won BIG. Beyond the true pleasure of showing off North Adams while spending time with Amanda, Julie, Cam, and the gang, our community rallied to show the entire nation what a special little city North Adams is and we had the best time doing it. The journey itself rewarded us with knowledge about marketing, new means of collaboration, and the discovery of untapped community enthusiasts ready to pitch in for the love of North Adams. Those assets will serve us tenfold as we continue to grow and thrive.
The competition morphed into an unexpected community reunion where hundreds of neighbors and strangers, across several generations of North Adams history, came together online and in coffee shops reminiscing about their fondest memories of our city and its businesses and sharing their hopes and dreams for our future. At a time of the year when the short days and bitter weather tend to make us turn inward and count the days to spring, we were coming together to make snow angels in the streets, laugh, play, and collaborate for team North Adams.
Most importantly, it gave a larger representation of North Adams a sense that being part of positive change in their community is within their reach, they make a difference, and we’ve seen that carry through into our daily lives since the competition ended. Everyday we see more hands raised to get the work done that needs to happen here. The NAMAzing Eagle Street Initiative used the momentum to raise almost $60k ($33k from individuals and businesses/$25k matching grant) towards improvements to the streetscape of that business district. Daunting as that goal felt the confidence and skills we gained from our Small Business Revolution experience helped us achieve it! We have so many new young faces running for local government, volunteering in community activities, and creating new groups to meet the needs of our friends and neighbors.
We’ve gained so much and don’t really feel like we’ve lost anything! From the bottom of our NAMAzing hearts, THANK YOU! Congratulations to Bristol Borough! We can’t wait to see Season 2 of Small Business Revolution and share in your journey.