A University of Wisconsin-Stout alumna is part of a mission to revitalize small towns, one small business at a time.
Devon Block, a 2013 graduate in graphic communications management, now known as graphic communications, is the brand manager for the hit series “Small Business Revolution: An Original Series by Deluxe” that streams on Hulu, Prime Video and online at smallbusinessrevolution.org. The series is starting its fifth season and will focus on revitalizing Fredonia, N.Y. by helping seven local businesses with their brand and marketing to help reignite the spark that drives them and increase their sales.
Filming has started for the fifth season and will continue through June. The season will stream in the fall.
“We know small businesses have limited marketing budgets,” Block said. “Deluxe has a suite of solutions to benefit small businesses across the county. Nearly every business ends up with a new logo, help to understand their customers, signage and promotional materials.” Deluxe is located in Shoreview, Minn. “Branding requires you know who your customers are. You understand their goal and what they need.”
Block will speak from 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10, in Ballroom A of the Memorial Student Center as part of Graphic Communications Alumni Partners. She will share her experiences at Deluxe and working on the Small Business Revolution not only as the brand manager but as the art and styling director for all photoshoots and develops brands for each of the small businesses featured in the show.
Deluxe started the Small Business Revolution by showcasing 100 small business stories across the country through photo essays and a half-hour documentary in 2015. That expanded into the series. In season one, Wabash, Ind. was featured; season two Bristol Borough, Penn.; season three Alton, Ill.; and season four Searcy, Ark. The team at Deluxe picks the top 10 towns for the series each year out of thousands of applicants. They visit those top 10 towns and then trim the list to five, which are put out for a public, weeklong, vote on SmallBusinessRevolution.org. After nearly one million votes in one week, the winner is announced, Block said.
“We see votes come in from across the seas,” Block said. “It is pretty incredible to see the communities championing themselves to encourage votes in support.”
Block, of Lakeville, Minn., also loves seeing the impact the show has on businesses. “We’ve seen firsthand how it can affect their lives in such a profound way,” Block said. “I feel like I’m doing something good. I feel like I’m making change.”
Block, who grew up in Eagan, Minn., chose UW-Stout because of the smaller classes and small-town environment. “I loved my graphic communications classes,” she said. “You get to know the professors and they know who you are.”
Shaun Dudek, graphic communications program director, said the program finds great value in the strong support from regional and national graphic media printing industry partners. Students are encouraged to build professional networks of alumni through industry engagement on- and off-campus.
“Many alumni come to campus to recruit for their current employer through Career Services and career conferences, and others that give back with presentations such as this event with Devon Block,” Dudek said. “The GCOM program has built this kind of service learning into our curriculum, such as within our cooperative education program.” Students will work within the industry for three to nine months and then return to their hometown high schools to present about their co-ops. It is a win-win to deliver leveraged alumni successes and knowledge, via a career pathway presentation to our current students.”
Graphic communications is used to communicate ideas, concepts, messages and instruction in a family of market segments embracing technologies of printing, publishing, packaging, signage, digital media, and marketing campaigns.
The program, with a 99 percent employment rate for recent graduates, is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications, an independent body of industry and education professionals devoted to promoting excellence in graphic communications.
UW-Stout is the only such accredited program in Wisconsin, and there are only 12 in the U.S.
UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.
Coty Skinner, an Army vet, owns ARganic Woodworking in Seracy, Ark. The company builds large foster-family focused tables and is part of season four of "Small Business Revolution: An Original Series by Deluxe."
Savor + Sip owners Josie and Amanda Braun are part of the “Small Business Revolution” season four streamed on Hulu, Amazon Prime and online.