Washington Town in the Running for Small Business Overhaul

by Danielle Kane | Feb 19, 2019 8:00:45 AM

Town of Camas in final round to win TV spot, ‘Small Business

Beyond the pines of northern
Portland, you can find the town of Camas, WA. A small city with just under
24,000 people, Camas was a paper-mill town in the early 1900’s, established by
Henry Pittock (yes, the same one you likely know from Portland’s Pittock
Mansion). The paper-mill is still there, and is operational, but its
surroundings have changed drastically.

When Pittock established the
paper-mill, it was surrounded by forests, according to Carrie Schulstad,
executive director of the Downtown Camas Association. Today, things look quite
different. The town’s main street is a mix of downhome charm and posh elegance
with a dash of retro vibe. I got a chance to visit Camas on behalf of Better
Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific, and the community’s pride in its home and
appearance is abundantly obvious.

“Everyone knows each other,”
Schulstad said. “When you’re here, truly, one person can make a difference.
It’s the type of town where you really feel you can have an impact.”

So, it’s no surprise that Camas is
in the Top 6 to win the “Small
Business Revolution – Main Street”
competition, a Hulu show from
Deluxe Corporation now going on its fourth season. Winning would mean six local
businesses in Camas will be the recipients of makeovers totaling $500,000.

The aim of the show, outside of
the revitalization aspect, is to help small business owners improve their
strategy and business development know-how. Sometimes that’s marketing help,
sometimes it’s bookkeeping and budgeting. The show highlights the value of
small businesses and their owners throughout the U.S.

“Our small business owners have
the passion,” Schulstad said. “They want to do well and serve, but that doesn’t
always mean they have the tools to do that. These folks are committed, but when
you add in the business expertise, that would be a game-changer for Camas.”  

Schulstad calls Camas a hidden gem
of the Pacific Northwest, but they are currently competing with nearby developments,
such as the Vancouver waterfront just ten minutes down the road. She wants
people to know about what Camas has to offer – it’s more than a paper-mill town,
though they still take pride in those roots.

At its height, the paper-mill employed
2,600 people; it’s now downsized to 130. However, there’s no plans to close it.
Schulstad told BBB the mill is an integral part of the town’s history that they
in no way want to diminish.

“That’s part of our heritage, but
we want people to know there’s more to Camas,” she said. “We want Camas to be a
destination for outsiders, but also remain a home to our locals.”

Camas, she said, is a community
with integrity – which is why BBB NW+P decided to rally behind the town in the
first place. Embodying integrity is one of our core values, and clearly, is one
of Camas’.

During my visit, residents and
business owners were quick to stop and say hello to Carrie and me; they were eager
to jump in pictures to create social media buzz and some even pulled out their
#MyCamas custom T-Shirts showing support for their town and the campaign.

The competition, which started
with 12,000 communities, is now down to Camas and five other cities located in Colorado,
Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and North Carolina.

“We’ve done so much work here and
we’ve done everything we can,” Schulstad said. “We need additional resources.
We would already be where we need to be if we had the tools to get there.”  

To vote for Camas Washington to win the Small Business Revolution, click here.

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