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With the Digital 395 fiber-optic backbone in place, the Eastern Sierra Connect Regional Broadband Consortium is helping locally owned small businesses capitalize on the improved Internet access.
The ESCRBC is giving away $700 and $1,300 â€śonline deployment packagesâ€ť that will partner local businesses with professional web designers to increase convenience for local shoppers and access a new market of out-of-the-area customers.
Those who would like to apply for the ESCRBC online deployment packages are asked to apply at escrbconsortium.org/online-presence/ by July 20.
Last year, the ESCRBC awarded a number of deployment grants, including four in Bishop for New-Cali Landscapes, Astorgaâ€™s Mexican Restaurant, Allen Outdoor and Bishop Tax.
â€śLast year was a huge success,â€ť said ESCRBC Project Manager Julie Langou. â€śWe would like small businesses to do something more challenging and grow in the online world.â€ť
Businesses that are approved for the deployment package will be partnered with a professional web designer who will review their business proposal. â€śThey need to have a marketing plan, and thatâ€™s what weâ€™re going to work with,â€ť Langou said.
The ESCRBC will help the grant winners map their business online to attract new customers, will help them engage in social media to ramp up marketing and help adjust their website to ensure it comes up on a simple Google.com search.
Langou said that a simple, easy-to-use website has a number of benefits, expands business hours to 24-hours-a-day, provides added convenience for customers and clients, increases profitability by lowering some costs and can allow businesses to predict business activity.
â€śWe are going to contribute financially because with the local small businesses, we understand that it can seem like a big riskâ€ť to invest in an online marketing strategy, Langou said. She added that the investment is well worth it.
â€śFrom recent studies, it appears that many small, locally owned businesses are struggling to understand the criticality of having an online presence,â€ť a press release from the ESCRBC states. â€śThe Eastern Sierraâ€™s main resources are linked to tourism. The tourists, usually coming from bigger cities, have embraced the use of Web technology, and use it extensively to plan their trip.â€ť
To be eligible for an online deployment grant from the ESCRBC the business must be independently owned and operated, based in the Eastern Sierra and have less than 20 employees.
For more information, visit escrbconsortium.org or call(760) 463-1261.