Oklahoma portal open for business

Oklahoma officially launched its Web portal Oct. 15, unveiling a searchable business directory in the process.

Like many redesigned state and local government portals, the YourOklahoma site (www.youroklahoma.com) has a common look and feel and is more user-friendly than before, said Deb Chase, the portal's director of marketing.

The business directory is searchable by name, location and ZIP code. Chase said businesses that don't have a Web presence also could add their information to the listing. Officials weren't sure how users would react, but she said, "It's turned out to be a hit."

The site also unveiled an events calendar for agencies to announce official government meetings. In the next several months, Chase said the state would launch an online professional license renewal service, beginning with the nursing profession, and an online grant application service for the Oklahoma Arts Council, which is a state agency.

She said the state is actively marketing the site through children's and other contests, in shopping malls statewide, and through news organizations and state agencies. Since the launch, Chase said the site has received 250,000 page views, but she couldn't say whether that was an increase from the state's previous Web site.

In June, the state signed a $1.1 million contract with NIC to develop the site. The contract was unusual for NIC, which has developed portals for 13 other states. NIC usually builds a portal for free and then makes its money by collecting user fees from transactions conducted via the site, such as renewing licenses. In this case, Chase said each Oklahoma state agency would contract with NIC to build its own applications.

She said a representative cross-section of government employees helped plan and design the portal.

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