Albany, N.Y., Named One of 50 'eCities' in Nation

Google chose the cities for the use of social media and the Internet by small and medium businesses.

by Tim O'Brien, Times Union, Albany, N.Y. / December 15, 2015
Public officials, business owners and Google representatives gathered Monday at Cider Belly Doughnuts in downtown Albany for an award presentation. Facebook/Cider Belly Doughnuts

(TNS) -- Google chose the city of Albany as one of 50 "eCities" across the United States for the use of social media and the Internet by small and medium businesses.

Public officials, business owners and Google representatives gathered Monday at Cider Belly Doughnuts in downtown Albany for an award presentation.

"Our goal here is to raise the profile of cities we believe are really embracing the digital economy in a smart way to drive the growth of their local businesses," said William Floyd, the head of external affairs for Google New York. "A large number of small and medium businesses don't have a web presence. Your business grows faster, and if your business grows faster, it's good for local jobs."

Jennifer Novak, co-owner of Cider Belly with her brother Andy, said she attended an event three years ago where Google discussed the importance of social media and the Internet for small businesses. Since they launched their shop 1 ½ years ago, she said, she has embraced using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

"Our sales will go up 10 to 25 percent every time we post online," she said.

It takes only 10 minutes of her day, she said.

"We're getting really good at food photography," she said.

Novak also spreads the word to other businesses, encouraging them to use social media and helping show them how if they are unfamiliar with it.

"We make it a point to go to other local businesses, probably four times a week, and encourage them to use social media," she said. "If I go out to dinner at Ama Cocina, I am Tweeting something about Ama Cocina."

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said she is pleased by the recognition and wants to expand broadband in the city to all neighborhoods to increase access and Internet speed.

"This is celebrating what e-technology is doing for our small- and medium-sized businesses," she said.

Her plans include to make broadband accessible in every neighborhood include low-income ones that traditionally are on the wrong side of a digital divide, she said.

"It's about accessibility and it's about speed," Sheehan said. "Imagine if your streetlights had wireless capability."

Google picked one city in every state for the designation. Floyd said the criteria used included whether small and medium businesses have a website, if they are set up with mobile versions, if they use social media to market themselves and enable customers to buy through their website.

©2015 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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