Byron wins Google’s “Best eTown Award”

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Yesterday, 30 August, Google announced the winners in their eTown Awards, a new initiative designed to recognize the communities of small businesses that are using the internet to grow, acquire and connect with customers.

Lachie Pennefather from Common Ground, Rick Slater from byronbay.com, John Gudgeon from the Byron Visitor Centre and Dean Power from Community Engine

Byron Shire was named Best Regional Area and Perth was named Best Urban Location when it comes to Australia’s burgeoning “digital economy”.

According to Deloitte Access Economics, Australia’s digital economy is worth as much as the country’s iron ore exports and will grow by $20 billion to $70 billion by 2016.

Federal Small Business Minister Brendan O’Connor, who launched the Awards, said “The digital economy is fuelling Australia’s economic growth and it’s important businesses of every size are well equipped to take advantage of the potential. I hope these Awards encourage other small businesses to get online to connect with people who are actively looking for their products and services”.

“This award confirms our decision to run our pilot in Byron” said Power. “It’s a place which has held onto its community values, has boundless creativity and “gets” the web.  It is significant that this award comes at a time when key local players in the digital economy are coming together to plan for the future of Byron’s digital footprint”.

Community Engine along with byronbay.com, Northern Rivers Tourism, the Byron Visitor Centre, Common Ground and Byron United are part of a VIA Byron working group that is improving the way visitors find and experience Byron on the web.

byronbay.com has been Byron Bay’s portal for fifteen years, which makes them older than google, youtube and facebook. “Fifteen years is a long time online” said byronbay.com’s Rick Slater.

The results of the eTown Awards are based on data that is collated and analysed through businesses who advertise with Google AdWords or websites that have been created using Google’s free service and the MYOB Getting Aussie Business Online initiative.

Google says the web is transforming all businesses in Australia, not just those typically considered to be “internet businesses”. The growth in start-ups’ online opportunities were further underlined by new research out on Wednesday by Getprice, which revealed that online shopping on a mobile device is at least a weekly occurrence for the majority of people, with more than a quarter shopping at least once a day. It is also the third most popular mobile activity, trumping search engines and only behind reading news and social networking.

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