Alton, Ill. just won $500,000 to redevelop its downtown

The Metro East city was up against 30,000 small towns for the Hulu show 'Small Business Revolution.'

ALTON, Ill. – Alton, Illinois won $500,000 to redevelop its downtown on Tuesday.

A watching party was held at Old Bakery Beer Company Tuesday afternoon.

The Metro East city was up against 30,000 small towns for the Hulu show ‘Small Business Revolution.’ The $500,000 award money will be used for projects, renovations, marketing campaigns or any other improvements the show’s producers believe can help each selected business.

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Six businesses in Alton will be featured on the third season of the show. Season 1 featured Wabash, Indiana and Season 2 featured Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania. The Hulu show was created by Deluxe Corporation to help out small businesses. Alton won through online voting.

"You can’t even begin to imagine what that could do for this community,” said Marci Thomas, who owns The Gift Box.

Thomas’ shop sells products from dozens of local vendors, and she’s already working on her pitch to explain to the show’s producers why they should choose her.

"We get the tiniest baby of the small businesses before they're launched out,” she said.

If she wins, she’s hoping the show will improve her store's marketing and online presence.

"I don't think most small businesses want a handout of money -- it's the advice,” she said.

That advice could have a far-reaching impact, no matter which small businesses move on in the competition.

"Even though I would like that to be me personally, everybody's a winner,” said Vickie Hopkins, who owns Party on Broadway, next door to The Gift Box.

Small business owners have until Tuesday, March 6, to submit their applications. The show will begin filming in late spring or early summer.

WATCH | Alton, Ill. will be featured on season three of 'Small Business Revolution'

Other cities that competed include, Amesbury, Massachusetts; Bastrop, Texas; Martinez, California and Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

Additionally, Alton will receive about $75,000 for a public project to be determined later.