North Carolina and Arkansas Link with ACN to Improve Web Presence

Economic development officials in Arkansas and North Carolina recently linked up with the American Community Network in an effort to give their states a heightened online presence.

ACN (www.acn.net) is the only searchable online database for all of the United States' more than 3,100 counties and 315 metropolitan statistical areas. Businesses and independent site selectors search ACN's immense database to find communities suitable for plant and office locations.

Marc Bailey, publisher and CEO of ACN, sees the site as an opportunity for communities, particularly rural ones, to compete for jobs. "Our site gives a community that no one's ever heard of [a chance] to compete with a community that everyone's heard of [for jobs]," Bailey said. "We want to eradicate joblessness in rural America."

Arkansas should be completely linked within the next two moths, according to Bob Krieger Jr., vice president of communications and government affairs at ACN. "Our purpose is to compliment and further expose an existing program, or [World Wide] Web site, by bringing more traffic to the site."

ACN linked up with President Clinton's home state just last month through the Development Information Network of Arkansas (DINA), the state's internal database of economic development information. "For everybody that's doing any kind of marketing with the Internet, one of biggest problems you face is getting your voice heard above the crowd's," said Terre McLendon, research specialist and manager of DINA for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute for Economic Advancement.

"DINA provides credible sources of information about Arkansas and ACN has the same types of qualities that we do," McLendon said. "We are really excited about linking to ACN because the stronger they are, the stronger we are."

North Carolina officials are excited about what ACN offers communities that have lagged behind on the Web to this point. "We think it's a great opportunity for communities who didn't have a Web presence to get one," said Leza Aycock, assistant secretary for administration in the North Carolina Commerce Department. "It allows us to show what North Carolina has to offer, displayed relative to other states." North Carolina signed on with ACN in March.

ACN's Web site received 345,000 hits in June alone, Krieger said. He expects that number to reach 500,000 by the end of the year. "We have gotten inquiries from all 50 states, Canada and abroad from government agencies, the media, and corporate and political communities.... ACN puts the smallest town on a level playing field with the biggest city."

Produced by Vulcan Publications Inc., ACN is free to its users and is provided at no cost to local communities and taxpayers. Business sponsors partner with local communities and provide the funding for Web sites that are linked to ACN. In North Carolina's case, Carolina Power&Light Co., BellSouth Corp. and North Carolina Electric Member Corp. are teaming with the state's Commerce Department and all counties to expand local communities' visibility on the Web.

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