Google announced Charlotte as the 2015 eCity of North Carolina. Why, and what does this mean? To begin with the award is for businesses being online, not residential users.
A little background: Google came out with the eCity Award three years ago to recognize the strongest online business community in each state, the “digital capitals of America”. Last year’s winner in North Carolina was Cornelius. To determine the award Google and an independent research firm, IPSOS, analyzed the online strength of local small businesses, including having a mobile friendly website, a blog, active on social networks, and/or being ecommerce oriented. Read the IPSOS methodology. The team researched nearly 13,000 small businesses in the US to determine this year’s winners.
Lilyn Hester, Google public affairs manager for the South East said “Charlotte’s small business community is on fire, making the most of digital tools, be they Google tools or others. I know that enthusiasm for the digital frontier inspires my friends at Google Fiber every day.” (Mary Ellen Player and Jess George of Google Fiber's Charlotte team were in attendance.)
Does this mean the honor was awarded in part because Charlotte has become a Google Fiber city, and this is a good marketing move on Google’s behalf? Perhaps. Was Kansas City an eCity? Check. Austin? Check. Salt Lake City? Check. All of these are Google Fiber cities. Regardless of any relationship between them we are thrilled Google Fiber selected Charlotte, and the eCity award is another strong endorsement of our community!
The award was presented on December 14 at Amelie’s French Bakery, and it was a photo op with Senator Thom Tillis and Mayor Jennifer Roberts in attendance. It was a surprise to see the Senator in Charlotte to present the award. He is known for being against net neutrality, while Google is committed to the principle of net neutrality. We hope the Senator's appearance is a positive sign of his interest and support of broadband in the state. If so, it couldn’t be more welcomed! Senator Tillis said the eCity award is a great way to recognize Charlotte’s leadership in tech and innovation.
After Mayor Roberts accepted the award and highlighted the value of Charlotte’s small business community, she introduced a tireless champion for entrepreneurship, Terry Cox. As readers know, Terry is both the President of BIG and co-founder of Charlotte Hearts Gigabit. Terry said “congratulations to Charlotte on showing the rest of the state how it’s done!” Terry went on to say that as an advocate for entrepreneurs, she works with large and small businesses, and has found that using digital tools quickly opens up vast new horizons, new partners and collaborators, new customers, new geographies, new ways to sell, and new ways to connect.
It was also good to see Kent Winrich, Director of the Fibrant municipal broadband network in Salisbury, in attendance. Fibrant became one of the first ISPs in the country to offer 10 Gigabit Internet service to all residents and businesses of Salisbury (read article).
We are thrilled that Charlotte was the recipient of the 2015 Google eCity Award, and can’t wait for Google Fiber deployment in the city.