Extreme Makeover

Should the Dalles Get a $500,000 TV Makeover?

The Columbia Gorge city is in the running for a $500,000 makeover courtesy of Hulu and Extreme Makeover's Ty Pennington.

By Julia Silverman January 14, 2020

Is The Dalles—the onetime Oregon Trail waypoint on the eastern edge of the Columbia River Gorge, often pegged as the bridesmaid to nearby Hood River’s bride—ready for its close-up?

The city is about to find out. The Dalles is one of five finalists to be the subject of season 5 of Hulu’s Small Business Revolution streaming series, co-hosted by none other than Ty Pennington, Mr. Extreme Makeover himself.

Winning would bring $500,000 in improvements and services to six small businesses in the town, including branding, remodeling and planning, plus a ton of free exposure.

In true American Idol-style, it’s up to the public to pick the winner. (Boosters in The Dalles suggest voting early and often, until the contest closes on January 21; you can do so here.) Also in the running: Benecia, California; Fredonia, New York, Livingston, Montana and Spearfish, South Dakota. This could be the year for a West Coast pick (sorry, Fredonia), as previous editions of the show have been in the Midwest, Atlantic Coast and the South. 

Formerly a blue collar, industrial town, The Dalles got a boost in national visibility when Google opened the first of its data centers on the edge of the city in 2006, alongside the Columbia River. Two more centers soon followed, and the tech giant now employs 200 people at its facilities there. The city is also a haven for kite boarders and windsurfers escaping Hood River's crowded waterfront, has the requisite hometown brewery specializing in Northwest ales and German lagers, a beautifully restored Moorish Revival performing arts venue and is home to one of the largest collections of neon signs this side of Las Vegas.

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