NORTH MYRTLE BEACH — North Myrtle Beach’s place as the Grand Strand’s 21st century city was solidified Tuesday when Google named it the state’s first eCity because of the way businesses there use the Internet for things such as marketing and customer service.
The city already had positioned itself as a land hub for offshore wind energy, and adding national recognition for electronic sophistication only solidifies an image of being prepared for the future.
“This award dovetails with our city’s entrepreneurial spirit,” Marilyn Hatley, North Myrtle Beach mayor, said at a Tuesday morning ceremony announcing the designation.
Afterward, she said the eCity designation shows what a progressive and aggressive city North Myrtle Beach is. She said it also tells the outside world that the city has a lot of young business people who are very smart and very into new technology.
Rick Wall, the city’s IS director, said that North Myrtle Beach may have a leg up on most cities anywhere in that it has a Verizon-installed fiber optic system that offers low-cost, high-speed Internet service to all businesses and individuals east of the Intracoastal Waterway. He said the system, which is now owned and managed by Frontier Communications, was the first and may be the only of its kind in South Carolina.
“Connectivity is one of the main parts of having a good digital presence,” Wall said.
Marc Jordan, CEO of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, said that further, the eCity designation can be used to attract new businesses to North Myrtle Beach.
“When I was younger,” he said, “wired didn’t mean what it does today.”
Then, wired meant hyper; now it means electronically connected.
Being the state’s eCity for 2013, he said, “helps us further brand ourselves and differentiate ourselves from other cities.”
North Myrtle Beach was one of five cities considered as the 2013 eCity for South Carolina. Google and IPSOS, an independent research firm, whittled the list to one winner.
Google said in information distributed at the ceremony that more than half of all U.S. businesses have no website. Yet it said that businesses that make use of the web are expected to grow 40 percent faster and are twice as likely to create jobs than those that have no Internet presence.
One city in all 50 states is being named an eCity this year, and Google hopes the initial group will inspire others in other areas on the business potential of the Internet.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.