THUNDER BAY – There is a growing and new spirit of enthusiasm building in Thunder Bay. It is coming via the efforts of a number of small business owners who are simply getting down to the business of business.
That enthusiasm is helping to change our economic picture, and presents a picture of opportunity in Thunder Bay that if encouraged and supported by consumers is going to make our city a better and stronger place to live.
A lot of the change is coming via small independent and locally owned businesses.
What is also interesting are that these locally owned and operated businesses are engaging the fairly new technology of the Internet to reach out to their customers.
There are over 50,000 people on Facebook in the City of Thunder Bay and within a 50km radius. That represents almost half of the population of the region.
One of the biggest changes for small businesses and getting their word out is that via the Internet, it is more affordable than ever before. Simply generating a Facebook group can have “Fans” join the group, and have others see that their friends are doing so too.
This combines two of the most powerful means of promotion, “word of mouth” advertising with “endorsements”. But instead of high-cost celebrity endorsements, on Social networking it is the endorsements of peers.
The Pew Centre for Media Research reports, “While blogs and SEO grew slightly in importance, social media dramatically increased in the percentage of businesses considering this channel important, from 46% in 2009 to 60% in 2010.”
What is really interesting in this fairly new process is that it really isn’t taking away business from the mainstream media. Radio, television, or print advertising is often seen by many small business owners as outside of their budget.
But with little more than an investment of time, a business can share its vision with customers and prospective customers. Combining a Facebook page with the website is the next step.
TBayTel has shared that 85% of the homes in Thunder Bay are connected to the Internet, a figure that is backed up by the large number of people in our community on Facebook, or surfing the Internet.
It isn’t just in homes where people are online, the Thunder Bay Public Library, Ottawa House on Cumberland Street, and the 31@ Junot Centre on Junot Avenue all offer access to the Internet. Add in the growing number of Wi-Fi Internet hotspots across Thunder Bay, and we are becoming an increasingly connected city.
The growing power of communications is going to have an impact on some of the traditional media, already figures are showing that Internet use is starting to overtake television viewing in many cases.
While some might think that the Internet is more of a place for young people, students and teens, the reality is that increasingly it is the over forty crowd that is online.
In Thunder Bay, on Facebook, there are more people over 35 years-of-age on the social networking giant than the under twenty crowd.
If you are on Facebook, check out the pages for Spa Euphoria, The Prospector Burger Barn, The 31@ Junot Centre, and a growing list of locally owned and operated businesses.
If the heart of your Thunder Bay is bigger than any big box store, you will find friendly people willing to help you at most of our locally owned and operated shops.
If you are looking for some local businesses to support here is a start:
Rosalee Andersson’s X-Hale for Fitness and Training
The 31@ Junot Centre for Internet and more!
Spa Euphoria & Wellness Retreat – An Oasis in the heart of Port Arthur!
Lake Superior Art Gallery – Art, framing, classes and more!
Ottawa House – Coffee shop meet Cubicle
This is of course, just a short list, please feel free to add yours in the comments section!