SEARCY, Ark. — 2019 was the most exciting year in Searcy's history.
“Never! There’s never been this much in one year that I can recall," Searcy Mayor Kyle Osborne said, "and I’ve been around here for over 40 years.”
Mayor Osborne said there are many things he hopes the city to accomplish in the year to come, including some surprises in the works that he cannot yet reveal. But none of them would be possible without the enthusiasm and attention brought by winning a spot on the show Small Business Revolution.
"Thanks to the hundreds of thousands of people around the nation that called in and helped us win that," Mayor Osborne said.
"That turned us upside down and sideways, and every which way because we were all so excited, and so, just, proud," Marka Bennett, coordinator of Beats & Eats, added. "Proud to be here, proud to be a part of it all."
The pride emanated from downtown, as the local business community learned to collaborate to rally support for Searcy's bid to be on the Hulu reality show. Six local businesses were renovated on the show and became attractions for tourists from around the country.
Mayor Osborne pointed out that there are few vacant storefronts in the downtown area and said hopes 2020 brings businesses into every last one of them.
To create a repeat of this past year's excitement, Mayor Osborne said quality of life projects will be key. He mentioned improving parks and the sports complex and building a new outdoor pool facility as being priorities, especially since Searcy voters recently approved an advertising and promotions tax.
"You know, things like that would, that's gonna bring people into our community and give our citizens something to do here, in their community, without having to go somewhere else," he explained.
Bennett runs the Beats & Eats downtown concert series and plans the annual New Year's Eve party. Making the city smile is her thing. And she says more people want to join her every day.
"There’s just more and more activities that people are planning, and ideas that are popping up,” she said. "We usually have more ideas than we can actually pull off."
The New Year's Eve party features lasers, concerts, and even Searcy's very own ball drop. It marks an end to a year that brought national exposure and two high school football state championships to the city, but Mayor Osborne said he is happy to leave 2019 behind. “I’m so excited about what’s to come, I’m ready," he stated. "Let’s go.”