BERLIN – Town officials are hoping an online contest could bring a $25,000 grant to Berlin.
Berlin is one of a number of municipalities entered in this year’s America’s Main Streets contest offered through Independent We Stand. The contest’s grand prize is $25,000.
“This contest, unlike the Budget Travel contest, involves a cash prize,” said Ivy Wells, the town’s economic development director. “We’ve gotten so many awards I’ve lost count but this one because of the prize is worth pursuing.”
The America’s Main Streets contest, according to its website, was created to promote the importance of main streets and the businesses that help them prosper. Wells praised the contest’s focus on the “shop local” movement.
She said she first heard about the contest last year.
“We found out about it a little too late,” she said. “The mayor wanted us to participate this year.”
And so Berlin Main Street was one of the early entries in this year’s contest, for which nominations and quarterfinal voting run until April 24. The 25 entries that receive the most votes by that date will move on to the semifinal round, which runs May 1-28. In early June, a panel of judges will choose a grand prize winner from the 10 semifinalists with the most votes.
Wells encourages fans of Berlin to vote daily in the contest at www.mainstreetcontest.com/. She said that votes were based on IP addresses so that people would be able to vote once a day from each of their devices.
Whether the town wins the $25,000 grand prize or not, she expects the contest to be good publicity.
“Anytime we can get Berlin into the spotlight it’s to the benefit of the town and the businesses here,” she said.
Berlin received the social media support needed to win Budget Travel’s America’s Coolest Small Town contest in 2014 and Wells is hoping those same supporters will vote for the town again.
“We have a lot of people that love us,” she said. “I think we get a lot of support from our community. At the end of the day it’s still a popularity contest.”
While it’s too soon to speculate how Berlin would use the prize money if the municipality was chosen as the winner, Wells said it would be used to “beautify the downtown” area.
“You know Berlin,” she said. “If we win, we’ll have one heck of a party.”