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Martinez Inches Towards Spot On Business Competition Reality Show

MARTINEZ (KPIX 5) -- A reality show with an unusual premise may be coming to the Bay Area. The program will give one local community's downtown district an economic shot in the arm.

The only local finalist is the East Bay town of Martinez.

There's an authenticity and charm to downtown Martinez. The mature trees on Tuesday treated visitors to a magical snowstorm that you probably won't find in a modern, hip shopping center.

But in a world that worships online shopping and home delivery, the brick and mortar of this small town is often seen as a liability.  Sounds like they could use a little help.

Thousands of small towns across America are competing to be part of "Small Business Revolution," a reality show focused on revitalizing Main Street, USA.

It was announced Tuesday morning that Martinez has made it to the final five.

"I think it's just validation for what we know, the potential that our business district has in downtown Martinez," said Justin Gomez of the Mainstreet Martinez Board of Directors

If Martinez wins a final nationwide online vote, a team of business and marketing specialists -- including Robert Herjavec of "Shark Tank" fame -- will invest $500,000 to make six local businesses more successful, thereby helping the entire downtown.

"There's businesses who might need just that little extra help, that extra nudge to create those customer experiences where Martinez will become a destination," said Gomez.

Chris Rodriguez hopes his Pegasus Bicycle Works will be one of them. He'd like some help promoting Martinez as a cycling destination. But he says just competing for the show has had its benefits.

"This kind of brought us all together in a different way, kind of," said Rodriguez. "Peeling apart the town and looking at it. Where do we want it to go and how do we want it to be?"

Then there's Luis Castro of the Del Cielo Brewing Company, transforming a 100-year old building into a brew pub. It's an example of how the old is blending with the new here.

"Here is a lot of younger people trying to open businesses in Martinez and providing a new idea," said Castro.

Martinez is competing with four other cities, but they feel if they win they can show all of America how a small town can succeed in the modern world, without casting aside its history.

If you'd like to show your Bay Area support and vote for Martinez, you can do so once a day until next Tuesday at the show's website.

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