Google has named Ashland the 2013 eCity of Oregon in recognition of the local business community's extensive use of the Internet.
The eCity awards recognize the strongest online business communities in each state, Google said in a statement.
The businesses in these "digital capitals of America" embrace the Internet to find new customers, connect with existing clients and fuel their local economies, Google said.
Google will recognize Ashland's innovative businesses during a community celebration with Mayor John Stromberg, state Rep. Peter Buckley, Google representative Darcy Nothnagle and local business members at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Boulevard Coffee, 555 Siskiyou Blvd.
"Google believes that by embracing the power of the Web, communities have a tremendous ability to grow business," said Phil Donovan, a principal with NW Public Affairs, a Portland-based public relations firm used by Google.
With the help of global research firm Ipsos, Google ranked cities according to their business communities' use of websites, blogs and social media, as well as their sales via websites and whether their online tools work well on mobile devices, Donovan said.
Boulder, Colo., and Austin, Texas, were among the other communities named as eCities in America by Google, he said.
Allison Hamik, owner and operator of Boulevard Coffee, said her business uses its website, blog and Facebook page, as well as other technology, to interact with customers.
"People check in about food, specials and events," Hamik said. "People are getting accustomed to checking online to keep up to date."
She said she's pleased that Google is recognizing Ashland.
"It's amazing and fabulous that our little town is getting such great exposure and is being recognized for this," Hamik said.
Jeremy Bakke said Google chose Boulevard Coffee for the celebration because of its strong online presence.
Bakke does print and online marketing, social media campaigns, web analytics, ad design and other high-tech work for the coffee shop, The Stratford Inn and SI Professional Cleaners.
He is also re-designing the Passport2Ashland.com tourist directory.
"I couldn't be happier," Bakke said of the recognition from Google. "I'm glad that Ashland is staying on the cutting edge of technology."
He said many businesses in town could improve even more by taking full advantage of social media networking and improving their ability to be found online by Google and other search engines.
Ashland is able to attract businesses that could locate anywhere in the world because of its natural beauty, quality of life and Internet infrastructure provided by entities such as the city-owned Ashland Fiber Network, said Katharine Flanagan, marketing director for the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.
She said the 2013 eCity of Oregon designation by Google comes after years and years of work by residents, the business community and the city government.
"Every day we work together and create and grow. It's nice to be recognized for that," Flanagan said.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.