PHOTOS: Maui Businesses Gear up with Google

March 19, 2014, 4:37 PM HST · Updated March 20, 4:20 PM
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Google selfie featuring US Senator Brian Schatz (far left). Photo by Wendy Osher.

Google selfie featuring US Senator Brian Schatz (far left). Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

A larger than anticipated demand for a free Google internet seminar on Maui, prompted organizers to add a second session on Wednesday afternoon.

Organizers say a total of 130 individuals signed up for the morning workshop, with an additional 100 businesses participating in the afternoon event.

US Senator Brian Schatz, who joined Google in hosting and organizing the workshops said, “I understand the desire, especially for Maui businesses to get online, to take advantage of the internet as a way to grow their business. 68% of all small businesses in the state of Hawaiʻi are not online yet, and so today is about helping people to get online.”

US Senator Brian Schatz helped to organized the Google event. Photo by Wendy Osher.

US Senator Brian Schatz helped to organized the Google event. Photo by Wendy Osher.

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“This is one of the biggest turnouts we’ve ever had,” said Whitney Lemon, a marketing manager for Google’s Get Your Business Online team.

“Small businesses are coming here. They’re getting a website, domain and hosting free for a year through our partner Star Logic. They’re also getting tools and tips for how to grow their business online once they have that business presence,” she said.

Senator Schatz was especially encouraged by the turnout saying, “We really exceeded all of our expectations … I’ll tell you, that they haven’t seen this kind of turnout — not just in Hawaiʻi before, but anywhere.” He continued saying, “Probably a couple hundred businesses that weren’t previously online are going to be online by the end of the day in Maui County. It’s really exciting,” he said.

Google workshop on Maui, photo by Wendy Osher.

Google workshop on Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

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Senator Schatz, who is a member of the Commerce Committee in the US Senate, and the chair of the Subcommittee on Tourism, Competitiveness, and Innovation, said, “We have real challenges because we’re rural, because we’re spread out, it costs money, (and) it’s a broadband infrastructure — so that’s something that we’re going to be working with.”

Senator Schatz called the internet “one of the most critical aspects of infrastructure saying, “You have your physical infrastructure, transportation, and all the rest of it, but now, internet is really mandatory if you’re going to grow your economy.”

US Senator Brian Schatz (left) being interviewed by Pacific Media Group's Dan and Charly. Photo by Wendy Osher.

US Senator Brian Schatz (left) being interviewed by Pacific Media Group’s Dan and Charly. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“Some of our more rural areas really depend on the internet, perhaps more than the rest of us,” said Senator Schatz in response to a question posed by Akakū Maui Community Television CEO and President Jay April.

He continued saying, “Sometimes the cell phone service is difficult, and so the internet is the way to stay connected to the rest of the economy. It’s really critical to make sure that broadband service and internet service is available to everybody, especially in the rural areas.”

Google representatives said business owners were able to benefit from today’s event by learning about a variety of Google tools, some of which cost money like Google Ad Words and Google Apps for Business. Free tools discussed included Google branded analytics, webmaster tools, trends, alerts, and a free Google Plus local listing to get found on searches and maps.

“They’re excited about taking advantage of the internet. Google has been such a great partner because they’re basically helping people to have an internet presence without paying for it,” said Senator Schatz.

For those who could not make it to the event, Google has established a HawaiiGetOnline.com website, which includes duplicated information of material discussed today. The website also features information on the Get Your Business Online Week, happening next week, in which virtual presentations will be broadcast live from the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.

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