Business challenge issued

YOUNGSTOWN – Mayor John McNally is issuing a 60-day challenge to businesses in Youngstown to expand their presence online through Google’s ”Get Your Business Online” program.

The challenge began Monday and could lead to one business getting funding to pay for products or services that would help it sustain an online presence.

”We think it is important to encourage businesses to get online and we think it will pay off overtime,” said McNally.

The program provides small business owners with a custom domain name, web hosting and access to educational resources free for one year. Since the program debuted in July 2011, it has helped more than 300,000 businesses get online and start growing.

As an added incentive, Youngstown will host a social media campaign that will reward a technical assistance grant for $5,000 to one Youngstown-based business that creates a website and shares via Twitter, using #gyboyoungstown.

The city has formed partnerships with local organizations to promote getting more businesses online. Those partners include the Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership, the Regional Chamber, the Youngstown Business Incubator, The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Empyra and the Small Business Development Center at Youngstown State University.