By COLIN M. STEWART
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Hilo will sport a shiny new coat of paint after being named a winner of a promotional contest.
Representatives from Benjamin Moore & Co. announced that Hilo will join a total of 20 towns across the U.S. and Canada in receiving a paint job free of charge as winners of its Main Street Matters competition.
The “revitalization package” will include exterior painting of downtown businesses along a two- to three-block stretch in each location, according to a Monday press release. Over the last six weeks, more than 130 communities participated, asking supporters to visit www.paintwhatmatters.com to vote for their town to win the prize.
Lee Wilson, vice president of Benjamin Moore distributor HPM Building Supply and an organizer of the Hilo campaign, said Monday he was thrilled with the news that Hilo had won.
“I saw it first when I woke up this morning at 5:30 on the Benjamin Moore Facebook page,” he said. “Honestly, I was surprised. For a town this size, with our population base, I thought it was going to be difficult. I tried not to get my hopes up, knowing we were up against some pretty big markets.”
But, he said, Hilo residents showed up in droves online to cast their votes as a result of a community-wide publicity campaign that included regular posts on social media sites, as well as providing downtown businesses with fliers and posters to get the word out to their customers.
“Hawaii proved once again it was up to the task,” Wilson said. “We tend to gather around and get everyone’s uncles and aunties voting regularly. And, we have a lot of friends and visitors who like to visit our town … and they could get behind Hilo.”
In the end, Hilo’s winning came down to hard work among all its residents and supporters, said Alice Moon, executive director of the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association.
“The community really had great participation in their posts. … We really appreciate everybody’s support. It’s kind of a miracle,” she said.
She added that she’s been getting plenty of excited response from the community since news started spreading of Hilo’s win.
“I’ve probably got 50 emails,” she said. “They’re ganging up on my inbox.”
Moon, who has acted as the primary contact in the application process, said that she anticipated receiving a package from Benjamin Moore at some point Monday that might provide more details about how the prize might be handled in Hilo.
“I really don’t know how it’s going to work. Are we going to have a project manager? I get the sense it’s going to be pretty substantial projects,” she said. “Maybe we’ll need a design committee, or we’ll have a lottery.”
It wasn’t clear who would be charged with doing the painting or what buildings would receive the new paint.
“The projects are due to begin this summer and continue through early 2014, and will be undertaken with the help of multiple partner organizations including a Benjamin Moore longtime partner Make It Right, its network of independent dealers, plus local municipalities, small businesses and local chambers of commerce,” reads the press release.
“Benjamin Moore will provide all necessary paint, stain, and supplies for facades, porches, railings, shutters and other exterior building trims. The areas to be painted will be determined jointly with town representatives and residents, and Benjamin Moore color experts will consult on color choices.”
The other winners of the contest include:
• Attleboro, Mass.
• Ellicott City, Md.
• Flint, Mich.
• Greeley, Colo.
• Halifax, Nova Scotia
• Hawley, Pa.
• Joplin, Mo.
• Macon, Ga.
• Martinez, Calif.
• Nyack, N.Y.
• Penticton, British Columbia
• Placerville, Calif.
• Sanford, N.C.
• Sea Bright, N.J.
• Sheboygan, Wisc.
• Stouffville, Ontario
• Texarkana, Texas
• Westerly, R.I.
• Xenia, Ohio
Email Colin M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.