Google and the Welsh government hope to boost economy through a digital make-over
Google has launched a year-long campaign to get Welsh firms online after telling them that they are losing out on business by not having a web presence.
Figures show that around 40 percent of small firms in Wales have no website and the campaign, supported by the Welsh government, Institute of Directors in Wales and South Wales Chamber of Commerce, aims to boost online economy of the region through training and workshops.
Business minister Edwina Hart and Google UK managing director Dan Cobley are due to address 400 delegates at the first free event at the Coal Exchange in Cardiff today and the event will be followed by others in Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport, Swansea and Wrexham.
The BBC reports that only 33 percent of businesses in Wales have access to sell goods and services online, compared to the UK average of 39 percent. According to Google, this lack of online presence is loosing the country money and a spokesman for the company said that people who have their business online see their business grow four to eight times faster than those that don’t.
Wales is one of the worst served areas of the UK for broadband, but the situation is changing rapidly, thanks to a £57 million investment by the UK government, and a similar sum from the Welsh government. Last year, the Welsh government extended eligibility for its Broadband Support Scheme, so that residents and businesses in Wales can apply for grants of up to £1,000 to invest in alternative technology for faster broadband in so-called ‘notspots’.
As the country becomes more connected, Google plans to coach digital agencies across Wales to deliver training and workshops once the initial three month campaign has ended. It already offers free websites ready to work with PayPal, and a free .co.uk web address for for two years.
One of the more interesting initiatives launched as part of the campaign is a traveling “Juice Bar”, which will offer free one-on-one online presence checks and workshops, tutorials and hands-on advice to small business owners. It is hoped that at least 1,000 firms will develop a website through the Juice Bar.
“Encouraging small Welsh businesses to get online and use the Internet is vital to the economy in Wales, and I welcome the launch of Google’s ‘Getting Welsh Business Online’ today,” Welsh secretary of state, Cheryl Gillan told NewsWales website.
“If your business is not connected online, you could be missing out on many of the benefits of the digital world. The Internet has the power to help drive sales growth and attract customers who don’t ”drive past the door,” she added.