Initiative sparks debate among web designers

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Some web designers think a new city initiative to get more businesses online could actually hurt Fort Wayne web-based business.

On Thursday, Mayor Tom Henry (D-Fort Wayne), Greater Fort Wayne Inc., and the Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center announced “Get Your Business Online” with Google. Communities across the U.S. are taking advantage of the program.

For one year, Google will give businesses a domain name, three web pages, and educational resources for free. After that, Google will automatically bill businesses about $5.99 a month for hosting and $15.99 dollars a year for the domain.

Leaders with Cirrus ABS, Xymmetrix, and the newer Rockhill Design were disappointed the city used Google for the initiative and wished the city would’ve used Fort Wayne-area companies.

“The fact that our city administration would kind of step up to bat for an out of town company was disheartening because we have a large tech sector here in Fort Wayne that would be able to help local businesses,” said Jon Swerens with Rockhill Design. “Google is not a charity. They are a business and they want to gain Fort Wayne business…so once you go past a year, Google wants to have your money.”

Xymmetrix Owner Todd Eigenschink added, “For the same amount of effort on the city’s part, they could have just said, ‘Hey talk to some of these local companies about getting your website online.’ Maybe talk to a group of designers and put together an inexpensive package.”

John Perlich, Fort Wayne city spokesman, disagrees.

“We don’t see that happening. What we think will happen is small businesses will use this program for a year free of charge. What we really envision is that other small businesses in the community whether it be web-based, public relations, marketing, we see those firms being engaging with these companies to see where those web materials can be taken to the next level,” Perlich said.

Not all the local web design companies disliked the city’s strategy. Leaders with Aptera and Reusser Design think a free year with Google is a perfect first step for businesses who can’t otherwise afford web services. They think eventually a company should outgrow the Google plan and use Fort Wayne-based companies.


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