Town embraces e-gov, high-tech neighbors
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Jan 02, 2001
Hickory, N.C., long revered for its furniture and textile industries, is
becoming home to several telecommunications manufacturers, and City Hall
is keeping pace with the area's new economy.
City Manager Gary McGee said the presence of new corporate citizens
such as Alcatel, Corning Cable Systems and CommScope Inc. has prompted Hickory
to be proactive in electronic government.
McGee said 40 percent of the world's fiber-optic cable is manufactured
in the Hickory area, and the companies have brought an influx of highly
trained, computer-literate workers and their families to the area. There
also are growing Hispanic and Asian communities, he said.
"I certainly think we're out there in front, especially for a city of
our size in North Carolina," McGee said. Hickory has 35,000 residents, and
there is a population of 300,000 within 30 miles of the city.
During the past five years, Hickory has posted hundreds of city documents
and a citizen complaint form to its searchable Web site (www.ci.hickory.nc.us). The documents include City Council minutes; government
policies and budgets; newsletters; an events calendar; and historical and
statistical information. Posting such material online has saved time and
money for the city for copying and distributing certain documents.
Additionally, with the help of federal, state and other grants, Hickory
has built two new libraries in the past three years, offering a combined
125 computers with Internet access for citizens.
"We know that some folks in Hickory don't have computer access at home
and they don't have any reason not to go to the libraries," McGee said.
The city has plans to offer e-government and online transaction services
to all residents. In March, the City Council will discuss converting the
Web site to a portal, McGee said.
The portal would offer such services as applying and renewing licenses,
permits and registrations; conducting auctions and bidding; procuring products
and services; paying parking tickets; and submitting subdivision plats and
building plans. The portal also would be made accessible to residents with
The city will survey residents about their computer and Internet usage,
government interaction and what type of e-government services they would
like, McGee said. The survey will be presented to the City Council.