In an effort to attract more business to the city of Albion, city officials have decided to establish a new committee tasked with improving Albion’s website and other areas of technology.
A more comprehensive website and expanded use of Albion’s public access television could play a role in drawing businesses to the community and boosting the local economy, said Councilman Maurice Barnes Jr.
The committee will be first nominated by Mayor Joe Domingo and then approved by the City Council.
Barnes said he thinks Albion would be better served by one all-encompassing website as an umbrella for all city entities. He also said the city should use its two public access television channels to broadcast replays of council meetings, public hearings, Economic Development Committee meetings and more on a weekly basis.
Barnes said he realizes there may be costs associated with both projects, but that shouldn’t be the council’s main concern as it tries to rebrand and revitalize itself.
“At some point, we have to invest and take some bumps and bruises to catch up with the rest of the state and country,” he said, noting that the city’s current websites are unappealing and sometimes difficult to navigate. “At some time we have to stop crying ‘poor,’ and spend a little money to bring people here.”
City Manager Mike Herman said a new website is a welcome idea, but directives would have to be in place about how the city would maintain the site and council would have to determine how much it was willing to spend.
Barnes suggested tapping into student resources at Albion College and Albion High School to possibly provide “for-credit” volunteer work.
Calhoun County Road Commission Chairman Scott Brown, an Albion resident who recently built the commission’s new website, said the perception that websites “are expensive and take a lot of time” are not true. He said he helped build www.calhouncountyroads.com with free open source software for less than $200.
Albion resident Maggie LaNoue, the creator and operator of www.albionmich.com, said she is also interested in redesigning the city website.
“It might want to be something (the council) wants to consider quickly because this Reader’s Digest (“We Hear You America”) competition ends quickly and the city of Albion will be getting national attention within the next two weeks.”
Albion currently sits in third place in the contest, which would garner it a $10,000 award and a spot in a future issue of the magazine.
The council agreed to also look into the cost of equipment it would need to broadcast events of public interest on Public Access Television at regularly scheduled times.
As published in the Jackson Citizen Patriot on Jan. 24, 2011