Vote Early and Often

Ikea could come to town – sort of – if local businesses' video gets enough hits

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

July 27, 200 7- A double-handful of businesses in downtown could share in $55,000 worth of prizes, all because of three minutes of video.

A few hurdles have to be cleared, however, before the 10 downtown locations — Judy's Kitchen, Town Square Antique Mall, Flippin Printing, Community Players Main Street Theatre, Hopkins County Genealogical Society, Custom Threads, Everything Unique, Hampton House Gifts and Edwards Used Cars — can win the big enchilada from Swedish furniture icon Ikea.

"We need your help," Rita Edwards wrote in an e-mail announcing the entries.

The "Small Towns, Big Dreams" contest by Ikea is designed to "create awareness for unique and growing small towns around the country, and to support the winning entry with a 'main street makeover.'"

The “small towns” moniker is a bit subjective — entries have come from such tiny burgs as Sacramento, Calif., St. Louis, Mo., and New York, New York, population 18.8 million. The vast majority, however, are from smaller cities.

Sulphur Springs is one of the 50 semifinalists chosen for the competition. Each of the 50 entrants submitted a video demonstrating the community vision of participating businesses as well as promoting the businesses.

The videos can be viewed by going to www.ikea.com/business and clicking on "Small Business Big Dreams."

A panel of judges will select 10 finalists, to be announced Aug. 2, and one of the criteria will be the ratings of the videos by viewers.

"Having some really good reviews on our video will also help us make into the top 10," Edwards indicated. "You will have to sign up for their network before you can rate our video, but by signing up you will also be able to vote on our video if we make the final 10."

Beginning at 11 p.m. local time on Aug. 2, visitors to the site can vote on their favorite video among the 10 finalists. Voting will continue until 11 p.m. on Aug. 22. The online votes will determine 30 percent of the final score, with Ikea's judges accounting for 70 percent of the score.

The grand prize is the $50,000 main street makeover by Ikea designers using Ikea furnishings forup to 10 businesses, as well as a a check for $5,000. Second prize will be Ikea gift certificates of $5,000 split between the businesses. Third place earns $3,000 in gift certificates.

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