Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009
By Shelley Grieshop
County seeks Web exposure to highlight Grand Lake area
  Mercer County commissioners this week agreed to hire a company to re-design the Web site of the county's economic development office.
The contract stipulates the commissioners - on behalf of the economic development office - will pay Gogical Technology Consulting a sum of $5,000 to customize a Web site and continue to maintain and support it in various capacities.
"This is long overdue," said Jared Ebbing, director of the county's economic development office, during a meeting with commissioners on Tuesday. "We need more than a nice looking Web site that doesn't take you anywhere."
The agency's current Web site at www.mercercountyed.com offers little flare and doesn't draw repeat viewers, he added.
The expense is being paid through the economic development office's marketing budget and a revolving loan -a program the economic development office offers to jump-start new businesses or expand and improve existing ones.
Ebbing said he hopes to have the new Web site up and running by February or March.
In addition to a new design, Ebbing is interested in adding video and photos to the site - something that he feels will get people's attention more than text.
Commissioners last week held a teleconference with CGI Communications who is interested in creating a streaming video of the Grand Lake area that could be viewed on the county's Web site and linked to others.
Ebbing said it would be beneficial to have a link to this site on the economic development's Web site to attract businesses and visitors to the Grand Lake area.
CGI would not charge the county to produce the video; the company would make their profit by selling ads to be placed beside the video stream on the Web site.
Commissioners plan to meet with representatives from the Mercer County-Celina Chamber of Commerce and the local visitor's bureau, as well as Ebbing, to further discuss the offer by CGI.
"I like that team approach," Ebbing added.
The county is currently looking into the quality of CGI's work and soliciting references from other counties and cities that have contracted with the company in the past.
Ebbing said he believes advertising the local area via the Web will get much more exposure than paying a large sum of money for a small add placed in the corner of a magazine.
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