Small Business Trends (SBT) conducted a question and answer interview with Bill Brunel. He is the co-founder of Meridian Group and manages the We Freelance account. STIHL Inc. She is a marketing client for the Meridian Group, and a sponsor and founder of Independent We Stand.
independent we stand background
When Independent We Stand was launched, STIHL had 8000 authorized dealers selling and servicing their portable outdoor power equipment. (The dealer base has since grown to over 10,000 authorized dealers.) STIHL founded Independent We Stand to bring attention to its authorized dealers.
In addition to STIHL agents, the We Freelance network now has over 145,000 freelance business members. Members represent many categories of business, including tire service centers, furniture stores, and coffee, flower, and candy stores.
SBT: It’s the sixth year of the Main Street competition in America. How did you start?
Bill Brunel, Meridian Group: The American’s Main Streets Contest was created to help recognize the importance of America’s main streets and the small, locally owned businesses that help them thrive. As part of its ongoing mission to promote small business, the We Stand Foundation created the America’s Main Streets competition to promote the critical role that Main Streets play in building the economic success of their communities.
Over the past decade, Independent We Stand has conducted many road trips down Main Street where we’ve seen firsthand that independent small businesses are the lifeblood of major streets across America. During our travels across the United States, we’ve met independent business owners on the main streets from coast to coast to hear (and help tell) their stories.
We’ve seen with our own eyes the powerful economic benefits of America’s main streets to their communities and how locally owned businesses are helping drive this prosperity. Our annual road trips, which usually covered five major streets in five states, were abruptly interrupted within five days with the onset of COVID 19, but fortunately, the contest continued – due to its online nature – with Sykesville, Md. Address in the middle of the epidemic. Now, two years after the battle with the virus, downtown Hudson in Hudson, Massachusetts, has once again proven that the main streets of America know how to live and thrive.
SBT: We love the “We Stand Independent” movement, which Stihl supports, for several reasons. One reason is to create a directory of locally owned and independent businesses. The second reason is to create an easy appAnd To help people locate and support those businesses. In these times, how important is community participation?
Bill Brunel, Meridian GroupCommunity participation is key, especially during these tough times in the face of COVID-19. Main Streets are bringing people together, even as the pandemic has separated us from each other. From community members gathering to keep their favorite small businesses open to the many outdoor markets we’ve seen pop up on high streets across the country, small businesses pop up for their communities every day, and society pushes them back in kind.
Take for example America’s Main Streets 2021 award winner, Downtown Hudson. They entered America’s Main Streets contest several weeks later than the other entries but rallied their community together to vote, and in the end, those efforts paid off.
Over the years, we have found that small towns function in a major way to support their main streets because they understand the important role that these business centers play in their communities. The Main Streets winners from this competition use every tool in their toolkit, from social media, flyers, and old word of mouth, and in doing so, command key attention and support for the businesses lining these streets.
Hudson, Massachusetts wins the 2021 Main Street of America ‘Road to Recovery’ contest
Independent We Stand is pleased to recognize Hudson, Massachusetts, as the $25,000 winner of America’s 2021 Road to Recovery contest. Over 1 million votes were cast by a nationwide audience in the sixth annual contest.
The Hudson Downtown Business Improvement area mobilized its extensive network of 85 owners and partners in the Hudson Business Association, the Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce and their community to vote in support of its entry. The organization plans to use award funds to promote culture and the arts.
Richard A. Braga, Jr. said: “We’ve worked for several years to revitalize Downtown Hudson, so winning this competition is a great opportunity to continue these efforts.” “Our goal from the start has been to expand our cultural and artistic footprint downtown and we plan to use our cash award to attract more public retail, with a creative focus.”
The initiatives planned and earmarked for the cash prize include:
- Continuing to provide accounting and financial advice to the business of the region affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Help finance the purchase and renovation of a vacant riverside armory for the Regional Performing and Arts Center.
- Expand a culture and arts program that offers incentives for new companies that meet specific criteria.
Bill Brunel, Meridian Group: The tremendous support that Downtown Hudson has received illustrates the huge impact small businesses can have on their communities. After several years of economic turmoil, we’re excited to see how Downtown Hudson will use this money to strengthen their community.