Although we live in an Internet age where 97 percent of Americans look online for local products and services, more than half of all small businesses in South Carolina don’t have their own website – and surprisingly, that is better than the national average.
To help these businesses tap into the web and reach more customers, Google, the S.C. Department of Commerce, S.C. Small Business Development Centers and others are partnering to offer free websites and web hosting for one year.
The program is called Get Your Business Online, and it is billed as an easy and fast way for South Carolina businesses to get a web presence.
For the next year, participating businesses can go to www.southcarolinagetonline.com to get a free website as well as free tools, training and resources. The service is provided by Intuit Websites and offers an easy-to-build website, a customized domain name and web-hosting for one year.
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“The perception that getting online is complex, costly and time-consuming has prevented many South Carolina small businesses from taking the first step,” Scott Levitan, Google’s director of Small Business Engagement, said in a release. “This program makes it fast, easy and free.”
There are 250,000 single-person companies in South Carolina, according to Commerce’s Chuck Bundy. Another 95,000 companies have fewer than 50 employees.
“Many of those companies may indeed not have a website,” he said. “But they absolutely need one if they want to do more business.”
Commerce spokeswoman Amy Love said partnering with Google to get more businesses online is just one way the department is trying to reach out to small businesses and create jobs. Other methods include trying to match lenders with business through regional “speed-dating” seminars, providing one-on-one advice and counseling and connecting small businesses with larger businesses.
“We felt like this was a good opportunity to reach a lot of people and get the word out,” Love said.