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Small businesses are vital to South Carolina’s economic future. They play a large role in empowering our communities and growing local economies. Yet, despite statistics that show nearly 97 percent of all consumers look online for products and services, nearly 40 percent of small businesses in South Carolina do not have a web presence.

Fortunately, Google believes every small business should be found online. Today, through its innovative Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map program—a new component ofGoogle’s Get Your Business Online initiative–it is enabling small businesses throughout the US to establish a web presence through products such as Google Maps–for free.

As an Official City Partner of the Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map program, The SC SBDC collaborates with local organizations to ensure small businesses are taking full advantage of web- and location-based marketing opportunities. Spearheading the SC SBDC’s involvement is Nancy Williamson, certified business advisor for the Newberry Area.

“With 4 out of 5 people using search engines to find information on local businesses, being on the map matters.” said Williamson. “For small business owners in particular, it’s critical to establish an online presence so customers can find them quickly and easily. Even small, home-based businesses can have a free online presence to reach consumers in their service area.”

As an Official City Partner, the SC SBDC helps local businesses connect to more customers by providing them free resources and hosting workshops using materials provided by Google. In addition to showing them how to get on the map, we provide workshop attendees:

-Support with creating a proper and complete listing -Detailed Instruction on how to logon to their account and update their listing -Tips for maximizing their exposure and deriving all possible benefits their listing can provide -Guidance on how to use the smartphone app to update their listing on-the-go -Expedited verification on their listing

To date, Nancy has hosted a total of 14 workshops: three in Newberry, two in Chapin, two in Charleston, and one each in Prosperity, Whitmire, Union, Irmo, Columbia, Orangeburg and Aiken. She plans to conduct more workshops in surrounding areas by the end of the year.

Nancy also works with high school students who help local businesses obtain their listings while earning community service hours. “I’m very proud of my little ‘Googlets’ as I call them,” Nancy said.

“I’m grateful to everyone in the SC SBDC network working with Nancy and Google to help small businesses establish a presence on the web,” said Michele Abraham, South Carolina SBDC state director. “When local businesses are online, it’s easier for consumers to find the services they need nearby. Not only does this enable small businesses to thrive, it stimulates a more robust South Carolina economy.”

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