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Building E-Commerce in Wright County, Iowa

E-commerce helps large businesses build revenue, even while traditional storefronts would be closed, and allows customers to research products and find exactly what they’re looking for at their convenience. Small and mid-sized businesses are also looking at online shopping as a way to make more products available and advertise to a larger customer base. Access to reliable broadband connections and awareness of e-commerce functionality are key components to developing an online shopping network.  Connected Nation and its state-based programs are helping smaller communities and their businesses get online and increase revenue while they sleep.

Wright County, Iowa began working with Connect Iowa in 2012, conducting a survey of broadband resources and measuring digital literacy and interest in the area. Changes in local government and economic development priorities put the initiative on hold until recently, when small businesses, residents, and the Economic Development department leaders expressed a renewed interest in broadband technology. Wright County is now working again to get on the map as a certified Connected community.

“The program parallels my ideas on improving technology and broadband awareness. I thought it was very important for marketing and workforce development,” said Bryce Davis, Wright County Economic Development Director. “First and foremost, we want to improve the knowledge and skill-set among our business owners to use the Internet to improve revenue.”

In 2012, the survey showed that Wright County has the broadband infrastructure and access to support Certification. The priority now is to make broadband available and give business owners and community organizations information and instruction to utilize the Internet to reach their goals. Working with colleges in the area, the county will conduct classes on e-commerce, cyber security, maintaining organized online finances, and other options to use broadband safely and effectively for business.

“We’re going to try to get as many businesses as possible to adopt and utilize e-commerce so they can improve sales while they’re sleeping,” said Davis. “Another way to diversify our economy is to promote the development and attraction of tech-based business. “Wright County is largely an agricultural community, and diversifying the economy will help to mitigate population decline and economic fluctuations experienced by agriculturally based communities.

With the broadband survey completed, Wright County will now be addressing projects such as digital literacy courses to increase adoption and use. Armed with action plan items and a full catalogue of broadband resources available, Wright County is set to join Iowa’s certified Connected communities in the coming weeks.

To keep up with other Connected communities near you and stay up to date with broadband news, keep in touch with the Connected Community Engagement Program.