Inaugural Event Highlights.
Washington Small Businesses Poised for Click Ready Growth
SEATTLE -- Ignite Washington Initiative held its first conference October 29th, 2014 at Mercer Island to design, collaborate and invest in a digital transformation plan for local businesses which would ultimately enable them to increase their revenue online.
The Initiative pledged to create local awareness by assisting 100,000 businesses to be digitally ready, develop 10 local shopping portals and infuse over $10 million over the next three years in the local economy. For a start, 55 Tacoma businesses are now digitally ready through the SHOP253 online market in Tacoma, WA.
Ram Dutt, CEO and Founder of Meylah stated that if hundred thousand small businesses were to generate $1,000 revenue each online, that would lead to a hundred million dollars influx, effectively creating 2500 jobs locally. Although the numbers might seem small it is only a tip of the iceberg.
The Ignite Washington Initiative brought a cross section of individuals, business owners and leaders from government, technology, marketing and advertising to invest in a digital transformation for local brands and businesses in Washington, ultimately achieving a mission of infusing money into the local economy through digital commerce.
The energetic discussions were wide ranging, raising awareness of knowledge gaps and lack of technology infrastructure as well as absence of advertising and marketing initiatives in small businesses.
While the lack of resources was acknowledged, there was a consensus that strong partnerships in the community would help integrate small businesses and aid their expansion in the digital world.
In an era where online shopping is becoming a major revenue generator, 65 percent of local businesses have limited digital advertising strategy, business analytics, or even a way to accept payments online. Keeping up with the trends and the latest technology is a recognized challenge. With user screens getting smaller, lack of mobile friendly websites can be detrimental to a business especially when mobile
sales are driving expansion in digital media , said Alex Fong, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances and Business Influencer Programs. Attendees connected and shared their experiences and thoughts. Larissa Long Mode Magazine’s Founder and Editor-In Chief who launched a fashion magazine in Seattle stated that being digital and lack of advertising interest has been a challenge even though her magazine has a broad reach. Mode magazine, she said, has been able to overcome some of that by making the magazine more interactive.
Sharing her take on economic strategies of the government, Seattle Council Member Sally Clark stated that there is a constant endeavor from the regional government to have inclusive prosperity in their development plans. “Our growth management and economic development strategies only work if they work on all four county regions,” she said. The Economic Development Commission proactively reaches out to small businesses poised for growth and evaluates how they can be of assistance.
Following the conference, the Ignite Washington Initiative continues to engage the community by urging members and business leaders to form strategic alliances, adopt co-op marketing and advertising solutions and launch local shopping portals. Other avenues of support would be hosting a digital readiness summit, co-producing a public awareness campaign and leading a Washington business
One of its first programs is the Tacoma Ignite Washington to be held on November 11 and 12th at William Factory Small Business Incubator in Tacoma Washington. This event will aim for Tacoma businesses to discover strategies to bring e-commerce to small businesses. In addition, Ignite Washington in collaboration with KIRO-TV will be launching a small-business co-op marketing and advertising solution.
The speaker lineup included former Seattle Sounder, Professional Speaker, Michael Tetteh, Digital Commerce Expert Stacey Bennett and former KUBE 93 Radio Host Tony Benton. Other notable speakers included, Gordy Bryson, President of International Media Partners, Michael “Luna” Libes, Serial Entrepreneur & Advisor to Impact HUB and Surf Incubator, Tawn Holstra, Thurston County Economic
Development Board Member and John Greenland, Director of Sales at KIRO TV.
The Ignite Washington Initiative was made possible by various sponsors including, Comcast, Microsoft Store, International Media Partners, Prudential, Microsoft US SMB, KIRO-TV, Channel ATV, Mode Magazine, Bellevue Chamber, Made in America Movement, Go Local Tacoma and ZINO Society.
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