Kenosha groups create umbrella Web site

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Kenosha groups create umbrella Web site

Three economic development organizations in Kenosha County have joined together to create an umbrella Web site, "More and more, the Internet is the place to go for business leaders or individuals seeking information about a particular city or region," said Mary Galligan, president of the Kenosha Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. "At the same time, it’s getting more difficult for those people to find all the information in one place."

Based on input from an area economic summit, Galligan’s group approached the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) — responsible for economic assistance to businesses relocating or expanding in the area, and the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce with the idea of an umbrella site.
"We all knew that the idea was a good one," Galligan said, "then it was a matter of working together to make it happen."
The three key economic advancement groups formed committees that included human resource and marketing representatives from industry, education, heath care and government.
"When we took a look at other sites around the country, we quickly noticed that many of them contained old information," said John Bechler, KABA president. "Besides that, a number of them were geared exclusively toward business executives. We wanted our site to be the one place for business executives, individuals contemplating a move to Kenosha – even people thinking about visiting the area for pleasure or recreation."
The result of the community cooperation is KenoshaArea.Com, an umbrella site with links to just about every type of community information business executives, new residents or visitors could want.
"Regardless of who looks at the site, the common denominator is that we’re all people and we all have a deep interest in the quality of life a region will be able to provide," said Stephen Cascio, of Cascio Design in Kenosha. "The look of KenoshaArea.Com is first about people and the quality of life they’ll find in Kenosha. Then the main theme – Great Life, People, Opportunity – supports the visual identity."
Once the visual identity and theme were established, the next step was figuring out the "rules" for being linked to KenoshaArea.Com, the group determined.
"We wanted to make sure that wherever site visitors chose to go, they found current information," said Cory Ann St. Marie-Carls, executive director of the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce. "So while there is no charge to be linked to the site, businesses and organizations must agree to keep their sites current."
The challenge involved making sure the information on more than 40 different sites is up to date.
"The region has a tremendous resource in Carthage College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside," Bechler said. "Representatives from UW-Parkside were involved in the planning process. Then when it came time to establish a team to monitor the integrity of the site, we brought in Carthage as well. The two schools are working together to figure out how students can review the linked sites on a regular basis.
"The key is not giving the job to a group of students as a project, but developing a process where monitoring can continue from semester to semester."
Dirk Baldwin, a professor in the UW-Parkside School of Business and Technology, and David Robinson, web master at Carthage, are charged with creating that process.
"Monitoring the sites associated with KenoshaArea.Com is something that both schools can integrate into curriculum of various business or Web-development classes," Baldwin said. "No doubt it will take us a little time to create a process that will work well over time, but David and I will get it done."
The final result of the project will be easier access to regional information for everyone, said Beth McGee, Web content coordinator at UW-Parkside.
"KenoshaArea.Com makes it convenient for people visiting our web site to get information about the region," she said. "In the past, we had to have three or four links from our site to the CVB, chamber of commerce, newspaper, etcetera. Now it’s one link and all of that information is right there – much easier."
According to Galligan, leaders of civic organizations in other communities have already contacted her about the site. "One question that always comes up, ‘How did you get it done?’ The answer is a lot of people worked well together," she said. "And in this business, that isn’t always the case. Fortunately for Kenosha, we made it happen."

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Oct. 17, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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