Greater Seattle promotes itself via the Internet.
This is good news for Joe Masterson of the Boeing company and chair of the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, an organization created to promote the city and region in overseas markets. The Trade Alliance markets the Greater Seattle region as an international business center, focusing especially on the region's strengths as a center of high technology, software and aero-space. "It's logical for the Trade Alliance to promote a high tech region in a high tech manner," explains Masterson.
The Alliance's site came about through a partnership between the Trade Alliance and the city of Seattle, one of its managing partners. It was a win-win situation from the beginning - the Trade Alliance receives technical assistance and storage space for the information while the city is able to provide a service for its international business community. Says Seattle \Mayor Norm Rice, "Seattle is one of the most highly `wired' areas in the United States. Our citizens are becoming accustomed to going to the Internet to find information and when they're on-line we want them to be able to use the city as a resource for international business information."
The city of Seattle is one of the Trade Alliance's six managing partners. Other partners include the King and Snohomish County governments, the Port of Seattle, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and organized labor.
An Internet site or home page is an information center on the Internet that can be accessed via modem or direct link from a World Wide Web browser or text-only. Video and audio clips can also be stored in a home page.
"We were cautious at first about the investment required to develop an Internet site, in terms of technical expertise," explains Bin Stafford, executive director of the Trade Alliance, "but when the city of Seattle's Public Access Network (PAN) offered to assist us, we decided to move ahead." PAN is an extensive on-line information delivery system that provides free 24-hour access to information and services in the greater Seattle area.
Seattle city councilmember Jane Noland, who serves as this year's president of the Association of Washington Cities is one of PAN's greatest proponents: "PAN is fast becoming one of the premier sources of information for a metropolitan region. Its development over the past year has accelerated not only increased city government information, but also developing relationships with key private sector partners." The reason for the wealth of information available on PAN is that each organization represented, such as the Trade Alliance, is responsible for providing and maintaining its own information.
The collaborative effort between the city and the Trade Alliance has allowed for efficient execution of the project. Costs have been kept to a minimum because the city provides server space and Roger Iida, senior management systems analyst for PAN, has trained Alliance staff to design and actually Write the code to develop the site. Learning the code was easy. Designing the web site was more complicated.
Laying out a web site is different from designing other marketing materials, especially when your audience is international in scope. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but on the Internet graphic images can take a long time to download over slower modem speeds that are the norm in many countries.
When you first arrive at the Alliance's home page a table of contents offers an easy way to find information (see graphic.) All text and graphics on the Trade Alliance home page can be doanloaded and printed out on hardcopy by users. The Trade Alliance can also be contacted via e-mail which can be accessed from the Internet site. The benefits are two-fold: users receive information more quickly and the Trade Alliance reduces copy, printing, postage, telephone and facsimile costs. This is especially noteworthy when it comes to the 30-page Journalist Reference Guide which contains information on the area and story leads for journalists preparing an article on Greater Seattle. Other information available on the Trade Alliance home page includes:
* Overviews of the Greater Seattle region in ten languages;
* Trade Alliance upcoming missions to overseas target markets, a schedule of meetings with inbound delegations and individuals programs and a listing of services;
* Trade, business, visitor and relocation information for potential international business partners, visitors and individuals or businesses relocating to Seattle, King County and Snohomish County;
* Trade Alliance member-companies international services and products are listed in the "International Business Card" section. A business person in Germany, for example, when searching for law firms conducting international business in the greater Seattle area, would check on the International services section and see a list of law firms with international practices; and
* Links to other Washington state international organizations and events, such as the Washington Council on International Trade, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Asia-Pacific Trade Exchange.
Now that the Alliance has a presence on the Internet, it wants to make sure that people use the information. There are two ways to access the site: type in the Universal Resource Locator (URL) (Internet address) or use a search engine.
The Trade Alliance wants to ensure that its site is listed in every index and search engine. To select our key words, we asked ourselves who was our audience and what information would they be looking for. Registering the site solely by organization name won't reach a buisnessperson overseas who has never heard of the Trade Development Alliance. The key words we selected were: Seattle, International, Business, Trade, Investment or Tourism. Periodically we do a search using the key words to see whether the Trade Alliance appears - so far it works!
A commitment of Trade Alliance staff time is required to design, develop and maintain the site on a weekly basis and we continue to promote the site to our overseas contacts, refer people to it as a source of information and add links to other Seattle-based international organizations.
"The Alliance is a model of public, business and labor cooperation presenting our region's international face," explains George Duff, Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce president.
The Trade Alliance's site can be accessed online at http:/ /www.pan.ci.seattle.wa.us/ business/tda/tda.htm. You can contact the Trade Alliance via e-mail at email@example.com or at 206-389-7301.
Ellen Wohl is Project Coordinator for the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle. She can be reached at (206) 389-7255.
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|Title Annotation:||Seattle, Washington|
|Publication:||Nation's Cities Weekly|
|Date:||Oct 23, 1995|
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