Why NET Connect? To Boost Local Business

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Website presence and capability can help to meet the needs of local people as well as businesses. How often do we hear “Can’t get it on the Coast”? Maybe…and maybe not. Maybe what is available just needs better exposure.

“Why not have an online coastal mall?” asked Pamela Patterson, CEO of West Company, which also serves as the Small Business Center for the Mendocino Coast. Currently, there are three local websites that give informational exposure to some businesses geared primarily to visitors:
www.gomendo.com
www.mendocino.com,
and www.fortbragg.com.
The search functions for specific products are limited, and there is no ability to make sales. An online coastal mall could showcase specific products (yes, sheets, socks, and undies are available on the Coast) with a detailed search engine plus a sales tool. Locals might find what they are looking for here without using time and fuel to go over the hill. With this kind of detail, perhaps new businesses can be created to serve specific needs not being met. Why let Amazon.com get the local computer savvy folks’ business?

Having the ability to do business on a website would help small businesses do better, according to Patterson. She and her team offer a free service to potential start-ups to help formulate a good business plan as a first step. From there, they can work more efficiently with a web developer to launch an effective, successful website with a shopping cart, photos, and all that online customers expect in today’s world. Patterson believes that being competitive in that market, looking “bigger and more credible”, requires high speed Internet. They need it to communicate with suppliers, legislators, and other resources. Many business applications such as cloud computing and office suites need broadband. Dialup is not adequate now and is likely to be virtually obsolete for businesses in the future.

In Mendocino County, 89% of all businesses are small businesses (under 5 employees). With the Internet, businesses down the hidden lanes can be found and prosper locally. Local goods can go worldwide. The aggregate increase in small business revenues with Broadband could be significant for the County’s economy.

There are many online success stories here, including
Flobeds http://www.flobeds.com/,
Lark in the Morning http://larkinthemorning.com/,
Mendocino Chocolate http://www.mendocino-chocolate.com/,
and Living Light http://www.rawfoodchef.com/ to name a few.

Dave Turner, founder of Flobeds, says, “I wouldn’t be in business if I wasn’t online. Broadband is as basic for business today as the telephone. In our County, businesses need to have self sustainability through the export of our products.” When the Coast is fully served with affordable broadband connections, the already inspired Entrepreneurial Spirit of the Coast can soar! Now it is up you to step up and demand it of all levels of government.

Shirley Freriks on behalf of the Mendocino Coast Broadband Alliance – Your thoughts are welcome – www.mendocinocoastbroadband.org or PO Box 12, Albion 95410.

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