Youngstown officials push for bigger online presence for small businesses

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Youngstown officials are hoping a new campaign will encourage more local businesses to create websites.

Mike Avey owns Joe Maxx Coffee Company downtown. He says the Internet, and specifically social media, has helped boost his business.

“It’s surprising me more and more how many people are actually following us on those social media and through like Google results,” Avey said. “When people are from out of town the Google results is critical.”

Boosting business is one reason behind the city’s new push to get more local shops on the web. It’s called the “Get Your Business Online Program” where Google gives owners a custom domain name, web-hosting capabilities and educational materials free for a year.

“We do believe there’s a sizable presence because that’s the way it is across the country of companies large and small who still don’t have an online presence,” Youngstown Mayor John McNally said.

“We are very much a believer that an online presence will help the business in terms of their success and that’s what we want,” said Youngstown Economic Development Director T. Sharon Woodberry. “We want a stronger Youngstown.”

Avey thinks the effort will bring more business to the area.

“I’m very excited about that, and i think it’s a great program and as many people that can participate, I think, should,” Avey said.

The city is also hosting a social media campaign that will reward a $5,000 technical assistance grant to a business that develops a website and shares it on social media. The contest will last for 60 days.

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