Effingham Awarded As Google's 2014 eCity of Illinois

Google’s eCity Awards recognize the strongest online business communities in the U.S.

EFFINGHAM – Amid a gathering of small business owners and local leaders at the nationally renowned Firefly Grill, Google named the City of Effingham as the “2014 eCity of Illinois.”  Now in its second year, the Google eCity Award recognizes the strongest online business community in each state as one of the “digital capitals” of America.  The awarded cities are recognized for their innovation in using the web to find new customers, connect with existing customers and fuel their local economies.

 “Effingham has always been a strong economic highlight in central Illinois. This award shows that the community is using the Internet to continue that progress in a new economy,” said Congressman John Shimkus.

Google and the independent research firm, IPSOS, analyzed the online strength of local small businesses in cities and a variety of factors to determine the leading cities and towns across the U.S., including: the likelihood of small businesses to have a website, use a blog, promote themselves on a social network, sell goods directly from their webpages and whether they had a mobile-friendly website. IPSOS researched almost 13,000 small businesses in the US - 51 for each of the top five cities in each state - to determine this year’s winners.

“We are very proud of our business community for winning this award. We are very grateful to them for the recognition they bring not only for themselves but also for the City of Effingham,” said Mayor Merv Gillenwater.

Firefly founder and co-owner Kirstie Campbell credits the web with enabling Firefly to succeed in a small town of 12,500. "The Internet has helped us make Firefly a destination for foodies and travelers from across Illinois, around the country and even the world - despite our location, which is hours from an urban center," Campbell said. "We've used the web to leverage our brand across online outlets, and using social media, platforms like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google reviews, and through creative use of our website and email subscribers, we're now in a position where people plan their trips around the opportunity to dine here."

The Internet is playing a more and more critical role in growing local businesses - 97% of American Internet users look online first for local goods and services.  Businesses that make use of the web are growing twice as fast and creating twice as many jobs.

"Google is excited to congratulate Effingham on its success in leading small business into the digital age. Your local businesses are taking to the internet in droves and it's paying off both in terms of business growth and how that growth impacts the local economy.  Our host today, Firefly Grill, is a perfect example: the celebrated chefs have a stunning website that helps visitors understand the unique restaurant experience offered at Firefly and their social media presence keeps followers informed of latest deals and specials,” said Wendy Gonzalez, Google spokesperson.  “By getting online, even more Illinois businesses can better share the services they have to offer with people across the state and world.”

 Click here for more information on the eCity initiative.