WASECA — Bright and early Tuesday morning — at 5:45 a.m., to be exact — upwards of 80 community members of Waseca gathered in the Performing Arts Center at the high school to watch the live-stream announcement of the top five spots for Small Business Revolution and to see if the city had garnered one of those top spots.
With business owners, city and county officials, school officials and community members watching Waseca learned it will not move forward to the top five towns for season 5.
Though Waseca will not move forward in the competition those in attendance stayed positive and energized by what has been accomplished as a city listed in the top 10.
“I am super bummed for the business community because this was something that came along where everyone was going in the same direction and really excited about it,” said Waseca Area Chamber of Commerce Director Ann Fitch. “And you rarely have something that gets a business community that way. You can get the general community excited about some things, but this was about the business community and it was just awesome to see that and I hope that they never lose sight of that.”
There was disappointment as well among the audience because of the opportunity for the small businesses and overall community of Waseca along with the work that was put into getting this far.
“It still gives us lots of energy to keep on keeping on and to try new things,” said Dawn Nelemans, owner of Nelmans Construction. “Things can’t progress without trying new things. I’m happy with the people who came out this early. I don’t think people are going to stop. They are going to keep up the momentum and we have lots of new small businesses.”
Even though Waseca is not moving forward to the top five towns for SBR, this experience has helped Waseca in numerous ways.
“I think it’s a bummer, but I think it will bring the community together and as a small business owner I think it was great,” Small business owner Scott Deml said. “Small businesses need revitalization.”
After making the first cut to the top 10, posters, stickers and T-shirts were spread all over town to show support.
“All of our Small Business Revolution stuff that we have, our posters and stickers and coasters and now T-shirts, there’s no need to put those away,” Fitch said. “We should still be really proud of our top 10 status.”
Fitch went on to say though Waseca is out of the competition, being named a top 10 town has re-energized the businesses and for the businesses to be recognized from the outside by a national television show is something to be proud of and of what they built.
Moving forward in Waseca, Fitch shared a plan B was created for this scenario. Business will continue and continue to see improvements in Waseca.
“We had talked about a plan B with some business leaders and part of the chambers strategic plan is to make sure businesses have proper feedback on how they’re doing business and also just to have our more seasoned business owners to answer questions,” Fitch said. “We need our newer entrepreneurs to open up. The people who have been in business for 25 years, they’ve been there. They’re feeling what you’re feeling, so you need to have the courage to open up to someone who you can confide in who’s been through it and can give you help or even just commiserate with you. So I think that we just need a real open dialogue with our business community.”
SBR showcases one town each season to help rejuvenate the town using $500,000 for business education, community investments and to invest in specific businesses in the winning town.
Waseca was named a top 10 finalist for season five in November 2019 for the show.
SBR was started by Deluxe, a small business financial services company, located in Shoreview, Minnesota. Amanda Brinkman of Deluxe was at the forefront of the creation of the show, who has a goal to help entrepreneurs, small businesses and financial institutions with customer relations.
Waseca was hoping to continue on with the competition, but will use the energy from making the top 10 to continue improving local businesses.
“Be kind of bummed out for a little bit but Waseca’s got more work to do and we need everybody to help,” Fitch said.