I grew up in Athens, Georgia, where my parents have worked at a local family-owned fish bait business for more than 22 years. As a kid, I remember how close-knit everyone at the company was, attending birthdays and family barbecues that turned us into a real extended family. This small company created a sense of community for us, and it also helped us pay our bills, buy a house and finance my education as a first-generation college student.
In Athens, small businesses are not only the bedrock of the economy, but also what make the community vibrant. And that’s true in just about every other city and town across the country. In the U.S., over 33 million small businesses create two thirds of new jobs and account for 44% of economic activity. Owning a small business is rewarding, but also challenging. Small business owners also have to deal with finding new customers, sustaining operations, rising costs and keeping up with the latest technology. That’s why I’m so proud to work on the Grow with Google Digital Coaches program, which connects diverse small businesses across the country with local marketing experts and entrepreneurs who provide live training and hands-on coaching to help them grow. Digital Coaches are successful business leaders who are from the communities they serve and who help local entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
Today, we’re announcing the addition of ten new Digital Coaches in Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. Trained in partnership with Main Street America, these new coaches will work with businesses in their home states, with a focus on those that operate in small towns and rural communities. Digital Coaches will offer ongoing workshops on topics designed to help small businesses grow and thrive, including connecting with customers, selling online, and improving productivity – all for free.