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Google To Help Small Businesses Get Online

A survey has found the majority of small businesses in North Carolina do not have a website, even as consumers increasingly rely on the internet to find products and services. Google commissioned the study of 1000 small businesses nationwide - including 100 in North Carolina and found more than 65 percent without a website. Businesses limit their exposure to customers if they don't have a website, says Scott Levitan, director of small businesses engagement at Google. "A plumber in Charlotte, for example," says Levitan. "Someone who has an emergency is going to go to the web and search for plumbers in Charlotte and a little map will pop up and there will be little pins on the map. Will that business be found? We want to make sure that that business - at a minimum - is visible." Levitan says small businesses owners in the survey said the main reason they don't have a website is they think the process is hard. Google hopes to change that perception with a series of events around the country - including one in Charlotte today until 5:30 p.m. at The Big Chill in Dilworth. Small businesses can sit down with a consultant at the event and set up a free website in about an hour. Levitan says the new websites will also be hosted online free for the first year. For more information, visit www.northcarolinagetonline.com.