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Workshops help small businesses reach customers using GPS technology

BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 10, 2011 – Small, rural businesses, such as artisans, “mom and pop” restaurants, and agritourism operators, face many challenges when it comes to marketing and advertising their products and services. Recent technological advances in location and place-based services, made possible through the integration tools such as GPS devices and online mapping and database services, offer small businesses innovative ways to reach potential customers.

Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program, based in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, are offering two workshops to help small businesses use technology to reach out to customers.

The half-day workshops will both take place on Jan. 18 in the Alderman Electronic Classroom at the Alderman Library on the University of Virginia campus. Participants may attend either one or both sessions.

Roadside Advertising in a Digital Age walks business owners through the process of registering their businesses on multiple national business databases, which are utilized by a variety of GPS and smartphone applications, such as TomTom, Garmin, iPhone, and Blackberry. Participants in this hands-on workshop, conducted in a state-of-the-art computer lab, will also learn how to leverage free online tools to support their Internet marketing efforts. The workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to noon; the cost is $40.

In Making Maps the Google Way, participants will explore the basics of Google Earth and Google Maps to learn how to make these tools work for their community or business, with a special focus on creating maps to share with others. The techniques learned in this workshop will benefit not only small business owners, but also local government officials, economic development groups, natural resource managers, community and nonprofit groups, and others. The workshop will take place from 1 to 4 p.m.; the cost is $40.

  • Register for both sessions online. Separate registration is required for each session.
  • For more information, e-mail John McGee or call (540) 231-2428.

The College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, which consistently ranks among the top three programs of its kind in the nation, advances the science of sustainability. Programs prepare the future generation of leaders to address the complex natural resources issues facing the planet. World-class faculty lead transformational research that complements the student learning experience and impacts citizens and communities across the globe on sustainability issues, especially as they pertain to water, climate, fisheries, wildlife, forestry, sustainable biomaterials, ecosystems, and geography. As a land-grant university, Virginia Tech serves the Commonwealth of Virginia in teaching, research, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.