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Learn How Technology Can Support Local Businesses

by Dawn Hegland on May 5th, 2011

As part of the UMVRDC’s participation in the Blandin Foundation’s Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) program, communities within the UMVRDC’s region are able to host free business broadband classes. UMVRDC staff have been working with the University of Minnesota Extension, who will be teaching the classes.

These workshops approach the challenges all Minnesota businesses face from a strategic standpoint; they are business classes, not computer classes. The Internet is one potential solution to business challenges; Twitter, a web site, Google Places, or a WordPress blog may be solutions where appropriate. The workshops will feature a number of different approaches – simple to complex – that businesses can use to improve their marketing, sales, customer service, and operational efficiencies and become more profitable. There are four groups of workshops: an introductory series called I’m Connected and three advanced series of workshops: Reaching New Markets, Customer Focus, and Digital Efficiency. They encourage businesses and communities to think and act effectively in this new world, to take a greater degree of control of their future.

  • I’m Connected Introductory Workshop Series

The goal of I’m Connected is to get businesses online in at least one way. It consists of a set of workshops to introduce businesses to the potential business uses of the Internet and highlights all the ways other businesses are successfully using the Internet. Topics include using blogs and social media (Twitter and Facebook) to promote a business, when a website might be appropriate, the options for selling online, and security.

  • Reaching New Markets Advanced Workshop Series

This advanced workshop series is focused on helping businesses and communities market their product, services, and/or community beyond their local area. Topics include:

E-Commerce: a detailed workshop on web-based selling including storefronts, payment systems, effective marketing and advertising (may be tailored to artists and craftspeople or small custom manufacturers)

Tourism: Marketing a tourist destination or an individual property

Community Marketing/Events Marketing

The “Guts” of Effective Websites including Search Engine Optimization, Keyword Optimization, etc. and Mobile Apps

  • Customer Focus in the Digital Age Advanced Workshop Series

In an increasingly competitive marketplace businesses differentiate themselves and gain competitive advantage by HOW they interact with their current and potential customers. This series will help businesses understand the strategies and tactics of working with their existing customers and attracting new customers using the Internet. Topics include:

Using Blogs and Twitter for Customer Service

E-Mail Marketing, Twitter, Facebook, specialized mobile apps, and Customer-Loyalty Programs

Small Store Survival Strategies

  • Digital Efficiency: Working Smarter with Broadband

This workshop series looks at strategies and tools that businesses can use to become more efficient in their internal operations and their relationships with suppliers, financial institutions, advisors, etc. The workshops include online research resources, the use of online banking, resources for competitive intelligence, training, and continuing education, tools for HR and benefits management, and how to communicate effectively globally (Skype, Adobe Connect, DropBox, etc.)

These classes have just started around the region and here is what class attendees are saying after the April 25th Doing Business Online class offered in Ortonville:

“The strategies Ryan is sharing could help us expand our customer base and enhance financial survival.”  Lila Salls, JoLee’s Jewelry in Ortonville

“I’ve spent years chasing the tail of technical knowledge. After today, I feel like I might actually grasp it. Ryan’s knowledge about his subject is obvious. His enthusiasm and the clarity of his presentation are refreshing.”  John Salls, Local Author

Find more feedback on Ortonville’s Doing Business Online class by visiting the EDA’s website.

Following is a list of upcoming classes that are being hosted by local Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Agencies:


June 6 – Doing Business Online
June 23 – Google Tools
June 28 – Marketing Your Website


May 5 – Marketing Your Website
May 10 – Social Media


May 12 – Marketing Your Website
May 18 – Google Tools — NOTE: NEW DATE!

Clara City

July 26 – Roadside Advertising
August 11 – Doing Business Online
August 18 – Social Media

Lac qui Parle County

May 25 – Doing Business Online – Dawson
May 26 – Doing Business Online – Madison
June 22 – Google Tools – Dawson
July 11 – Social Media – Dawson
July 18 – Roadside Advertising – Madison
July 27 – Marketing your website – Madison


June 29- Doing Business Online
July 20- Google Tools
July 28 – Marketing Your Website

We will post updates as more information becomes available. For more information on these classes, contact Dawn Hegland or Jacki Anderson at 320-289-1981.

From → MIRC, News

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