When you think of cities considered to lead the country as technology giants, a cozy town such as Cornelius might not be the first place that comes to mind.
But Cornelius earned the Google eCity award, a recognition that goes to cities that are leaders in online businesses in each state this month. The winning cities’ businesses are using the web to find and connect with customers and to fuel local economies, the company says.
Google’s research shows Cornelius leads the way in North Carolina for being the most tech-savvy city in the state, the company said.
Emma Ogiemwayne, a Google spokeswoman, said the award is about celebrating the fact that businesses are succeeding in a small business community.
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Through use of a global independent market research company IPSOS, Google analyzed advertising word penetration, active website updates and sales of goods and services, she said.
The company tracked the online strength of local small businesses in all 50 states, and the cities in each with the highest scores in each state was designated an eCity.
“It is exciting for the cities that have made intentional strides to become an eCity.” Ogiemwayne said.
This research matters, she said, because it shows that people are looking online before they buy goods and services.
State Sen. Jeff Tarte of Cornelius and others attended the Oct. 9 Google eCity award presentation, held at Waterbean Coffee on Jetton Road.
Cornelius Mayor Chuck Travis said the town’s involvement with the Internet shows its great spirit of being engaged in the digital world. It also shows, he said, citizens are building businesses and being active online.
“Small businesses are the backbone of America. We’ve got to work on an environment where small businesses can survive,” Travis said.
Waterbean Coffee owner Tony Vo said he promoted his business using websites, social media and advertising on Google.
He promotes with a purpose, he said, by being intentional about time of posts on social media and seeking out Waterbean Coffee’s target audience.
Another thing that sets his business apart, Vo said, is that he accepts Bitcoin as payment. Bitcoin is a software-based payment system. Customers scan their phones at the time of payment and funds are transferred online.
Vo said the recognition from the Google eCity award has helped increase his business.
“We feel very proud we beat out a lot of large cities. It helped put us on the map for technology and social media,” Vo said.
While owning and operating a business is tough work, Vo is opening a second location in Huntersville within the next few months. If businesses can stick it out and stay true to their goals, it’s worth it, he said.
“Try to be unique. Be different from other businesses. Not just in Cornelius but everywhere else.”