Call to businesses: Give WEB-IT a try

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

When Ohio University Southern announced it was recruiting businesses for

its WEB-IT program, we jumped at the opportunity.

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WEB-IT - Wireless, E-commerce, Broadband, Ironton, Technology - is a partnership between Motorola, Ohio University Southern, Connectlink of Chesapeake, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Governor's Office of Appalachia. It offers a high-speed, wireless broadband connection and e-commerce services that start with a Web site and extend to business-to-business connections.

The university has until April 30 to get 10 businesses up and running or the ARC will pull the grant funding. Unfortunately, only four have signed up: Unger's Shoes, Meehan Steel, The Ironton Tribune and John D. Davis Family Dentistry. It would be a shame if the city would lose out on this opportunity due to lack of participation.

In the ever-changing world of technology, many businesses take advantage of what the Internet has to offer. Not long ago, some business leaders were not convinced selling their products online could be profitable, but today, the vast majority of businesses selling products or services use the Internet as a major selling tool. Of 300 merchants surveyed by the consulting firm the E-tailing Group, 84 percent said their top managers are very or somewhat satisfied with the return on investment of their e-commerce efforts.

In 2003, online retail sales were up 38 percent from 2002, topping $100 billion, according to Forrester Research. Growing nearly 20 percent a year, online sales could account for 10 percent - or $230 billion - of all retail sales in four years. Approximately 5 million U.S. households will shop online for the first time each year through 2008, Forrester projects.

Due to trends such as these, companies around the globe - big and small - continue to invest thousands of dollars in technology to boost online efforts. With this program, businesses here could have much of this investment covered.

Ironton would be missing out on a golden opportunity if we let this program slip through our hands. We urge all businesses to give this program serious consideration.