Wednesday May 29, 2013
Cities assist businesses in numerous ways to drive economic growth in their communities. Mayor Greg Fischer has just kicked off a new way that Louisville is helping its businesses, with a concerted effort to help get them an increased website presence, and creating digital economic corridors.
“The internet and mobile devices are making it possible for us to have an impact on small business growth, because increasingly, people turn to the web or their smartphone to find places to eat, shop, and do business,” Fischer said. “When streets lined with local businesses show up in those online searches, businesses and the surrounding neighborhoods will benefit with increased economic activity and vitality.”
Initially, the pilot project will focus on the central part of Dixie Highway, from Rockford Lane to Lower Hunters Trace.
Of the local businesses in the target area, only 16% are accurately represented online. Forty three percent are present in online portals, but lack key information like their hours or a link to their website. Meanwhile, 20% are incorrectly categorized and 21% don’t appear at all in Google Maps.
These online inaccuracies were the impetus for the city’s new effort to get all local businesses within a defined economic corridor properly represented in online information portals like Google Places, Yelp, Yahoo! Local and Apple Maps.
The project will aim to get local businesses in the target area to attend a “Digital Dixie” workshop where they will learn how to get their businesses properly represented online, and learn the best practices for ensuring they are prominent and easily found in online searches. That same information will be available online for all Louisville small businesses.
Two “Digital Dixie” workshops will be offered, both 9-11 a.m., on Tuesday, July 16 or Friday, July 26, at Western High School, 2501 Rockford Lane.
"We decided to focus on the Dixie Highway corridor because it is an up-and-coming economic center full of local businesses that Louisville residents aren't acutely aware of,” said Ted Smith, the city’s director of Economic Growth and Innovation. “In conjunction with the pending pedestrian infrastructure project on Dixie Highway, this effort promises to help local businesses, by jump-starting growth in their neighborhood."
Rick Blackwell, city councilman for District 12 which encompasses the project’s area, said he was pleased that the city will be putting a focus on small businesses in his district. “While there are many well-liked shopping districts around the city, we want people to know that Dixie Highway has a vibrant business community with a lot to offer the residents of Louisville.”
Future plans for the digital economic corridors project involve expanding the geographic area southward on Dixie Highway all the way to Valley Station. For business owners and residents interested in having the Digital Economic Corridors project implemented in their area of Louisville, the city has created an online form where you can submit your request here.