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Workshop will teach small-business owners how to use geospatial technology to promote their businesses

BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 18, 2009 – The Virginia Geospatial Extension Program at Virginia Tech will host a workshop for small-business owners on how to use geospatial technology to advertise their businesses. The half-day, hands-on program will be offered in Blacksburg on Jan. 8, and repeated in Stuart, Va., on Jan. 22, and in Abingdon, Va., on Feb. 11.

The workshop, “Marketing in a Virtual World,” will show business owners how location and place-based services – made possible through the use of GPS devices such as car navigation systems – can be used to geographically connect potential consumers with nearby businesses. Participants will also learn how to make use of free, online tools to support their Internet-marketing efforts. At the conclusion of the workshop, business owners will have registered their businesses with GPS databases and other national business databases.

“We are trying to use global positioning to inform people, especially those traveling on highways, about small businesses that are located in close proximity to the traveler or tourist. Local business owners should consider GPS navigation devices as virtual roadside billboards. These applications can help to level the playing field for smaller businesses,” said John McGee, Virginia Cooperative Extension geospatial specialist and assistant professor of forest resources and environmental conservation in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources.

The workshop will be offered at three locations:

  • Friday, Jan. 8, at the Virginia Tech Microcomputer Lab, 220 Cheatham Hall, in Blacksburg, Va., from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Friday, Jan. 22, at Patrick Henry Community College in Stuart, Va., from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Southwest Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va., from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

According to McGee, small, rural businesses face many challenges – especially when it comes to marketing and advertising their products and services. Business owners may be preoccupied with more traditional forms of advertising such as signage, yellow-page advertising, and print advertising, which are often expensive and do not always target the intended audiences.

The workshop, held in a computer lab, will offer an overview of national trends associated with location-based services and provide participants with step-by-step instructions on how to register their businesses on car-navigation databases, among others.

More information, registration for the workshop is available online, or contact the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program at (540) 231-2428. Registration is $40 per participant.

Read more about the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program: