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Google Names Albany New York's Digital Capital

Albany has been named one of Google’s 2015 eCity award winners.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Congressman Paul Tonko and search engine giant Google New York's head of external affairs William Floyd appeared at Cider Belly Doughnuts on North Pearl Street. Tonko presented Sheehan with Google's trophy.    "Kathy gets it. Mayor Sheehan is cutting edge. This region is reflective of what happens when we embrace technology," said Tonko.

Floyd explained Google's eCity Awards recognize the strongest online business community in each state.  "This initiative is done in part by a lot of research. We've employed an independent research firm that factors in a number of data points to designate cities around the country as eCities. We look at things such as the use of web advertising, whether or not small and medium sized businesses have websites. Most importantly, if those websites are mobile-enabled, because more and more people are on mobile devices. And we also look to see if those businesses are using social media to market themselves. And whether or not they're selling services directly on their website."

Co-owner Jen Novak says social media has sparked Cider Belly's business.  "About three years ago I went to a conference, the Smalbany conference, and there was a Google presentation. And they said, 'You need to be on social media' and as a 40-something I know nothing about social media — or did not know anything about social media, and I took it to heart, I learned everything I could. I'm still learning every day. And now if we post every day, it's a good day, because our sales will go up 10 to 25 percent for every time we post online. So it is important and imperative for every small business out there to get social. Use your social media, use your hashtag, use your connection and get people interested and excited about your product. We're excited about our product every day."

Officials say supporting small businesses online is key to economic growth, because that’s where their customers are — 97 percent of Internet users look online for local products and services.

Many Capital Region businesses rely on the web to find new customers, connect with existing clients and fuel their local economies.   Albany joins 49 other cities Google hails as the new “digital capitals” of America. While that's great news for business, the city has yet to follow on a plan to expand the footprint of its free Wi-Fi, and Floyd admits no upstate cities are likely to participate in any Google broadband plans in the near future.  "We have a roster of cities that we're working worth and unfortunately none are in New York right now, but, it remains to be seen."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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