INFORMATION-TECHNOLOGY

Google Deal Promising for Small Businesses

Kitty McConnell

More Ohio small businesses can enter the online martketplace thanks to the Secretary of State. When filing paperwork with the office, they can now build a free website through a state partnership with Google. Filing fees have also been lowered.

"Over the last five years, we've tried to shift to market-friendly policies," says Secretary of State Jon Husted in a recent announcement. The Google partnership includes free domain hosting for a year and $4.99 every year after.

Businesses that use the web grow 40 percent faster, says Google's Rob Biederman, who joined Husted to announce the partnership.

Husted's new initiatives will drive business startups in underserved communities by lowering barriers among urban entrepreneurs, says Frank Whitfield, president and CEO of the Lorain County Urban League.

"(This is) really an equalizer for people coming from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds to compete with the big boys," says Whitfield.

Ronald Todd II, owner of Dayton-based SEEP insurance consulting and brokerage, built his business website several years ago when the Dayton Chamber of Commerce formed a similar alliance through Google's Let's Put Our Cities on the Map program.

"The state of Ohio is giving folks an opportunity, if they want to go out there and get it," says Todd.

Todd serves as the volunteer chairman of the Diversity Inclusion Advisory Council to Husted. He works with the Secretary of State's Minority Outreach Coordinator to help minority-owned small businesses access resources to set up operations in Ohio.

Entrepreneurs in underserved communities are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing capital and startup resources, says Todd. "How do you empower people? Information. The Secretary of State's office is saying, 'Go through this avenue.'"