And when I say “someone from the outside” I mean “anyone”.
Let’s say I’m a small business that needs to do some local market research. Do I turn to the Chamber of Commerce in the town in which my business is located? Do I call the Buffalo Niagara Partnership? If I want to include Canada in my market region, do I contact the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise? What about the Buffalo-Niagara World Trade Center? Or the Canadian Consulate?
There are dozens – maybe hundreds – of local public organizations acting on behalf of the consumer, supported by government programs, membership fees or private sponsorships. Most do not want to consolidate with other common-themed organizations. Hence, there are something like 26 Industrial Development Agencies in Erie County alone.
Within my various community contacts I’ve begun to advocate a regional map to go onto the main page of every community web site offering community and business services – A pictorial way for all these disparate groups to link to each other in order to help augment a search for information within the WNY community. It is my belief that the next generation of decision-makers will much prefer a quick Google search to picking up the phone. We might as well give them a way to make their search as painless as possible.
The regional map would graphically represent the spider’s web of service organizations, and pop up a brief description of the services offered. It would also provide a hot link to other related services so that moving from one web site to another would require a single mouse click.
The Internet may yet provide a way around the fiefdom problem that exists so painfully in Western New York