OSWEGO, NY – Dr. David Granoff is spearheading an effort to resuscitate the Port City’s official website.
Recently, the doctor met with Mayor Tom Gillen and they began a dialogue about how the city’s website could do a better job promoting and enhancing the city.
On Monday, they met with members of the Common Council to hear about ways of improving the city’s web presence.
The city would be looking at an investment of between $30,000 to $35,000 for the software to get a new website up and running.
“It doesn’t take a whole lot of revenue coming in (from the website) to justify that,” Gillen said. “The more we put into it and the quality we get from it – the more benefit we’ll see.”
Granoff came from the Philadelphia area. He was looking for a place with a small town atmosphere with a lot of quality of life. He looked at places in various states all up and down the East Coast, he said.
“I fell in love with this area,” he told the group of councilors in the Mayor’s Conference Room. “A lot of people say the same thing when they finally get to know about it.”
He didn’t fall in love with Oswego because of its website, he pointed out, adding that the website he looked at back then is the same website today.
“I have no idea in the world why this website continues as is. It should be upgraded, it should be evolving with the technology,” he said.
Following his discussion with the mayor, the doctor, who also has an Internet background, said he began looking around at the websites of “competing cities” similar to Oswego.
Oswego needs to make a good first impression when someone visits its website, he said.
If they don’t, they go to the next city’s website, he added.
Oswego is poised for growth, “But you have to get the word out,” he told the city officials.
They have to engage everyone from local businesses to potential visitors, he explained.
If people are bored with your website when they first go to it, you’re sunk, he said.
Websites can be used not only by visitors, but by the city, the doctor pointed out. They can keep statistics on where visitors are from and other data to help market the city.
The city’s website could promote things like Harborfest, which in turn would drive business at restaurants, hotels and other places including maps to tell people how to get to where they want to be, he said.
Granoff said the city would benefit from having an updated web platform with mobile device compatibility. By 2013, he pointed out, 50 percent of those accessing the website will use a mobile device.
It could also be designed to help link the city departments to one another. There could be a secure area where city employees could log in and stay abreast of what others are doing.
“We’re looking for accountability and transparency for government, let people know what’s going on,” Mayor Gillen said. “It would also allow for community input. The more information we have, the better decisions we can make.”
“This is a business card for your city,” Council President Ron Kaplewicz said of the website. “The other things that we’ve talked about certainly can and should be integrated into our website. We have to be creative because anything you can imagine, I think we can incorporate some how some way.”
The councilors mulled over three potential proposals provided by Granoff’s research. They will put out a request for proposals and discuss the responses at the committee level before bringing one to the council floor for final consideration.
The doctor briefly described the pros and cons of each proposal.
“I think if we’re going to join that elite class of cities in upstate New York, this is something we should consider strongly,” the mayor told the councilors. “It is the future and it is the present. We should be doing this now; we’re kind of late to market, we should have been doing this the last few years. We have a ‘bulletin board’ right now but we don’t have an interactive website that leaves you out there thinking you want to learn more.”
This is what other cities are doing to promote themselves, the mayor said, adding, “I think we have got them beat. I think we’ve got more dynamic culture and beauty and history,” he said. “We’re a city that shouldn’t be in this position. I think that if we get our image out there, who we are, where we wan to be people will respond very favorable to it.”
For example, he pointed to the upcoming Dragon Boat competition in Oswego. Many people will see that and want to come to Oswego and check it out, he noted.
Once the city decides which firm they want to go with, it will take around three to six months to get operational.
The mayor said he hopes to volunteers step up to assist with the project.