Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Web, The Concept Of Community, And Small Business

I live in Bowling Green, Kentucky which is the third largest city in Kentucky with a population of over 58,000.

Its home to Western Kentucky University, Fruit Of The Loom, Houchens Industries, and GM-Corvette Plant, SCA, and Camping World.  I also found this in Wikipedia:
"Bowling Green is shifting to a more knowledge-based, technology-driven economy. With one major public university and a technical college, Bowling Green serves as an education hub for the South Central Kentucky region. In addition, the city plays an integral part as the leading medical and commercial center." 
We also have a minor league baseball team and soon, a performing arts center.  With all of this I believe that one simple thing, one small initiative, that was just launched could unlock a tremendous amount of innovation, job creation, and economic growth in our city and that is the I HEART BG program!

Why not turn this program into a complete community focused internet based web within the web?  Since yellow pages are history and with all the technology of the internet allowing for anyone any where to connect with the world, why not create a one stop shop for every about Bowling Green?  I use the internet on a daily basis and I find myself searching for things in Bowling Green more and more, I also realize that after living here for over 20 years I am more out of touch than I was when I first move here; what we need is an internet community that actually reflects an actual community.

Why can't we create a homepage for everything Bowling Green?  It could replace the yellow pages, it could replace Google Search, it could include a "GroupOn" just for local businesses, it could have a "facebook" like component just for citizens living in Bowling Green.  A homepage that was not the entry point for the globalized web but rather one to the community that we live and work in.

At one time we relied on our local paper and the telephone book to know what was going on in our community but today, with the internet, we find that local businesses, local news, and local events all get lost in the world wide web; I know more about what is going on in the Middle East than I know about what is going on down the street.  I want to shop local, but in between emails, groupon ads, flyers in the mail, local small businesses get lost, they come and go, before anyone is aware they ever existed.

We have television ads, we have mailers, and most small businesses have websites and fan pages on Facebook but the reality is what we need is a locally based web with in a web that allows me, the user, to find what I am looking for, when I want to look for it!

Envision a Yahoo homepage just with news, features, and promotions that are local?  Just this morning I visited three sites relating to Bowling Green, Kentucky and I realized that I missed five things that I really would have liked to have participated in. 

While we celebrate the world wide web, and enjoy the opportunities that it provides us to broaden our knowledge of the world, we also have to acknowledge that the more the internet invades our lives the less in touch with our real community we become!

This would be a multi million dollar project, but we have WKU and Hitcents in town, and we have a very vibrant community of small businesses that would dramatically grow due to this endeavor; the reality is in three years we could generate very healthly increases in tax revenues and probably reduce the local unemployment rate by 2% and this project would be able to return its initial investment and generate income to sustain its self in the future.

1 comment:

Carl said...

Imagine a city website where Yelp included recommendations from people who one knew? Or where Angies List was something that was created by names you recognized?

What an infrastructure to support local, main street, businesses with! Imagine the participation one could create within a community where there was a weekly email update that included everything and everyone in a city?

A local web that involved the community! Rather than surfing the web and jumping from one website to another you would have a web page, a home page, that would bring all the local businesses websites, the local news information, and a host of other links all directly to an individual via the web.