Brunswick, by virtue of its tech-savvy small business owners, has Maine’s strongest digital economy, according to Google Inc.
google ecity brunswick
Each year, Google partners with independent research firm, Ipsos, to evaluate the online strength of local small businesses across all fifty states. After weighing various factors, such as the likelihood of small businesses having a mobile-friendly website, maintaining an e-commerce platform, publishing a blog, and connecting with customers on social networks, the Internet giant recognizes one community in each state where the local businesses have excelled at leveraging the Internet to find new customers and grow the local economies. It calls them eCities.

According to Google, 97 percent of Internet users look online for local products and services, and businesses that have an active digital presence grow twice as fast as their offline counterparts.

“Brunswick serves as a prime example of how innovation and growth in e-commerce can successfully contribute to bolstering economic progress and competitiveness,” Emma Ogiemwanye, a representative from Google, says in a statement. “Google is proud to recognize  Brunswick’s accomplishment, and the role it plays in creating Maine jobs.”

The only Brunswick-based business Google cites in its news release is Gelato Fiasco, which makes and serves Italian gelato. Gelato Fiasco “utilized the web to strengthen their online presence and grow their brand, affording them the opportunity to serve their gelato in select grocery stores around the country,” the release says.

Linda Smith, Brunswick’s business development manager, says the city is home to several established and emerging tech-savvy businesses. She says TechPlace, a business incubator being launched at Brunswick Landing, will attract even more innovative entrepreneurs to the community.

“We recognize the vast potential offered through the Internet for a world-wide customer base — on our digital doorstep,” she says in a statement.

This is the second year Google has named an eCity in each state. Last year, Google selected Scarborough as Maine’s inaugural eCity.

In the end, the eCity awards are a PR stunt. Google knows that if small businesses create websites and decide to market their goods or services online, many of them will turn to Google’s digital marketing products, such as AdWords and AdSence.

In July, Google reported that its search engine and advertising platforms helped provide $286 million in economic activity for Maine businesses, website publishers and nonprofits in 2013. That’s out of a nationwide total estimated impact of $111 billion. That finding is based partly on a “conservative estimate” that for every $1 a business spends on AdWords, it gains $8 in revenue through Google’s search engine and AdWords. The Google economic impact report notes that 5,500 Maine businesses and nonprofits benefited from using Google’s advertising tools, AdSense and AdWords, in 2013.