Google is on a five-borough tour helping small businesses get something they've been searching for: a website. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
Regina Phillips makes custom-designed centerpieces.
"They're one of a kind," she says. "Whatever you like, I can create it."
But one thing she didn't think she could create was a website.
"I need a website," she says. "I need it badly to get everything out there."
It's why she joined some 400 other small business owners at a recent event held by Google. The program, "Get Your Business Online," walks participants through the process of setting up a website, something Google executives say 58 percent of America's small and medium-sized businesses don't have. And since a whopping 97 percent of consumers go online to at least research products or services before they buy, having a web presence is no longer just an option.
"I definitely think it's essential in this day and age," said Peggy Liao, the co-founder of Cat and Peg. "Otherwise, how are people going to know where you are?"
"If you want to know where you can buy a widget, in the old days, you might look in the yellow pages under widget. Now, you look online," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler. "If you're not online offering your business as a source for the widget or the travel information or whatever you are selling, then people are not going to see you and you aren't going to be as competitive."
Google launched the program last autumn with seminars in Buffalo and Albany. Since then, they've hit all 50 states, giving several hundred thousand small businesses a custom domain name and free web hosting for a year.
The packed event attracted entrepreneurs from clothing designers to exporters to personal chefs, all of whom can only benefit from being online.
"The local nail salon, the hair dressers, the shoe repair shops, they need online presences too because as people move to mobile devices and smartphones and they are looking for services out there on the fly, they want to know what's in my neighborhood, what's immediately around me," said William Floyd of Google New York. "If these small businesses get online, they can make their presence known."
The five seminars in New York City are the final stops on Google's nationwide tour. However, the services and support are still available. You can find out more at newyorkgetonline.com.