Business Gateway Project Begins
the Internet offers tremendous opportunity to the small business community.
It is a source of useful information that connects businesses to
suppliers and customers and provides knowledge on which to base decisions.
At the same time, the Internet exposes the small business community to
great potential risk. The same
technology that puts businesses in touch with potential customers can expose
them to misinformation and con artists. Bad
information can lead to bad decisions.
information on technologies, markets, trends, geography, demographics, products,
regulations and business methods is essential to small business success.
Yet training tailored for the small business community on how to locate
and use these information sources is not readily available. Further, because
many sources of unreliable and untrustworthy information are also found on the
Internet, seekers of business information must develop skills in evaluating
information and recognize what is useful and accurate.
Government-provided information on the Internet such as that offered by
the U.S. Census or the EPA is often useful for small business, but collecting
and manipulating this information can be a daunting task.
Prospective users of these data must deal with multiple interfaces, and
master a steep learning curve before being able to work efficiently.
gateway project will begin with a survey and analysis of small business
information needs. Information
resources and information seeking strategies that are most promising for area
businesses will be identified and incorporated in a web portal developed for the
project. The portal will include
public domain and commercial databases with an emphasis on sources of high
quality information. Users of the
portal will be able to go to a single source for the business information and
instruction that they need.
the portal, users will be able to access information sources ranging from an
article on a specific topic to a map of tourist attractions, or a list of
grocery stores, land use zoning maps, or companies in a given industry.
The portal will link business information sources to one another and
enable business people to generate maps from various types of data.
As part of the project, JMU Libraries will also purchase books and other
print resources for small business and make them available for checkout by
business people in the central Shenandoah Valley.
outcome of the project will be course development to meet the needs of small business
persons. Plans are to develop
web-based courses that address small business needs and utilize the
information resources offered via the gateway.
Short training modules on using and evaluating business information will
be developed and made available on the public web.
Streaming video will be used to deliver instruction and training
courseware on efficient and knowledgeable use of information.
Through training videos of business information experts demonstrating the use
of various databases, business people will see how online information
can be used to solve business problems.
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