The city of Schenectady is growing business by embracing technology in a partnership with a household brand.
Take one analog Electric City and one digital powerhouse and you get an initiative that gives small business owners web hosting, a custom domain name and free access to educational resources for a full year.
Google's "Get Your Business Online" program is dedicated to growing small businesses by making it fast, easy, and free to get online. The web giant, by its own count, racks up 1.2 trillion internet searches a year. Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy explained the need for the partnership Thursday morning outside a Union Street storefront. "Stronger businesses build a stronger community. Studies show that 97% of internet users are now looking online to find local products and services. Approx. 58% of American businesses, particularly small businesses, still do not have a website. And we are dedicated to helping our business community succeed. Being online, being on the web is key to that success."
City Councilwoman Marion Porterfield noted that a key ingredient to improving Schenectady is helping small businesses grow and prosper. "These businesses are our neighbors and they invest back in our community and offer residents a variety of items and services that make a community a great place to live. And with online businesses you can shop at home, in the middle of the night, anything you wanna do, so you don't have to actually be there on site, so that makes it really great."
Porterfield mentioned the outreach has already begun: by mail, email and personal visits to small businesses and community organizations throughout the city. "We've created a new page on our website to help spread the word about this program, and we're posting on the city's new social media page."
Under the Google-Schenectady partnership, the city will work with Albany-based Google Business View's "Inside Three Sixty," which will create a Google 360-degree virtual tour of City Hall. Company rep Eric Wood says Schenectady has a long history of being on the cutting edge of technology. "Beginning immediately, Google Business View, which is basically "Street View," inside your business, is now available here in Schenectady. And we'll lead by example, as the mayor indicated, we will be spinning around city hall with some specialized equipment, and we will be creating an interactive, virtual tour, using Google Street View technology, of our very own city hall. And again, this is a technology that is now available to every business in the city."
Street-view technology is already in use at the Albany Institute of History and Art, where key components of the museum's collection have been made available on the net. "Get Your Business Online" looks to get at least 370,580 U.S. businesses to the web creating "America's Longest Main Street" in virtual fashion.
More information is available at http://cityofschenectady.com/gybo.html
An example of government use of Google Street view technology can be found by searching “The White House” on Google Maps
An example of local use of Google Street view technology can be found by searching “Colonie Center” on Google Maps or going to http://insidethreesixty.biz