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'Google & Friends' Getting US Small Businesses Online



While 97 percent of Americans look online for local products and services, 63 percent of the country’s small businesses have no website, according to Google. The search giant has teamed up with a network of national and local partners to change that, one state at a time, and has already put thousands of small businesses online.

This program is designed to drive economic growth by providing the nation's businesses with the tools and resources to get online.  Small businesses that want to participate are offered a free, easy-to-build professional website from Intuit, a free customized domain name and hosting for a year, a free local business listing on Google Places and free tools, resources and local events.

"The reality is that many businesses are invisible to their customers and potential customer s looking online," Scott Levitan, Google's director of small business engagement, told BusinessNews Daily. "We created the program to nip the idea in the bud that going online is hard, expensive and time- consuming."

National sponsors participating with Google include Intuit, Meetup, Score and the Association of Small Business Development Centers. Local partners include small business and minority business advocacy groups, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations.

"We couldn't do this alone," Levitan said.

The program, which just launched "New York Get Your Business Online," has now been rolled out in 14 states from Utah to Virginia and has put tens of thousands of small businesses online, Levitan said.  Local partners in New York include Empire State Development, New York Farm Bureau, the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce, Organization of Latino Entrepreneurs and Women Presidents' Educational Organization-NY.

After a hiatus between Thanksgiving and the New Year, the program will gear up to cover the remaining  states by the end of 2012.

When the free offer expires after 365 days, a business has the option to continue having its site hosted by Intuit for $4.99 per month plus $2 per month for the domain. There are no contracts to sign.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.



Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.