By Bobby Fernandez Greeley Tribune, Colo.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "Grow with Google," is a training program that provides hands-on workshops on how to use Google's array of free digital tools to grow and promote business. Entrepreneur Amy Felix recently took advantage of a Colorado workshop where she learned the ins and out of how to market her family's Chile business.
Greeley Tribune, Colo.
The small-scale roasted chiles business Amy Felix's uncles started about 15 years ago in Greeley has never needed much marketing to succeed.
A brand name? Nope.
A loyal, steady customer base? Absolutely.
And there's at least one other element that may be necessary toward the future success of Felix's family business -- or any growing small business, for that matter: an online presence.
Felix is a 22-year-old Greeley resident attending nearby Colorado State University to study computer science. She was one of dozens of small business owners, students, job seekers, educators and entrepreneurs that flocked to Farr Regional Library in Greeley for a free day-long training session hosted by Google.
The training program, dubbed "Grow with Google," provided hands-on workshops on how to use Google's array of free digital tools to find jobs, advance their careers and grow and promote their businesses.
Google's stop in Greeley on Monday was one of three stops this week in Colorado. The tech company will host events in Boulder on Wednesday and Pueblo on Friday. The program is in its third year touring the country, starting in 2017.
Felix has been part of her uncles' chile business since she was 8 years old. Those who are familiar with their chiles might know their family's name, Castaneda.
However, their business is such a small, intimate, low-key operation, you won't find any trace of the family's name or any kind of direct branding unless you ask around -- and their customers do ask around.
"We don't really have a name, but everyone knows all my uncles," Felix said. "People just know each other, and word spreads."
The family roasts its chiles at the Greeley Farmers' Market on Saturday from the spring through fall, as well as the Save A Lot grocery store at 816 25th St.
Its loyal customers know where and when to find the chiles.
Yet if you try to Google the terms "Greeley", "chiles" and "Castaneda" in any particular order, you are unlikely to find a search related to Felix's family's products.
That's something Felix is looking to change through her higher education, her growing business acumen and through the realization that if a business -- big or small -- is to succeed in 2019 and beyond, it needs some kind of web presence.
"My family, before the roasted chiles, they had a business in Mexico that had the same roasted chiles, but they also had different produce," Felix said. "There was no technology, it was more networking. So, they brought that to the United States and to Greeley. And it works. But now that tech is the new trend, I feel we should use it to help with our business."
Felix recently approached her uncles about the idea of taking their business online, through social media and even their own website.
Her uncles were very open to the idea. But, like any good business owner, they asked Felix to develop a marketing plan for how to take the business online and submit it to them for approval.
"My family is not very tech savvy at all," said Felix, who graduated from Aims Community College before moving onto CSU a year ago. "So I started designing our website last semester. But, I need more details and I don't know how to (promote) a business through the internet.
"That's why I came here, to get more into it."
Google's arrival in Greeley couldn't have come at a better time for Felix. Tasked with developing a digital plan for her family's business, Felix recalled hearing about the Grow with Google workshop through Facebook and on the radio. She immediately became interested in all four of the sessions Monday.
She had to miss the morning session -- geared toward nonprofits -- because she had class in Fort Collins. But she took in the duration of the workshop, centered on reaching customers online with Google, getting your business online and digital skills for everyday tasks.
Farr Regional Library served as an ideal backdrop for Google's workshop, as dozens of attendees filled the library's conference room, which was well-equipped for the audio-visual-heavy, interactive presentations.
The library was also set up to accommodate one-on-one coaching sessions between attendees and Google's team of instructors.
High Plains Library District executive director Matt Hortt said he was happy to open the library's doors for Google, considering the tech company's objective falls in line with many of the digital training programs the library district has been trying to implement.
"It's the perfect time for it," Hortt said. "With the library, we're really looking at digital skills-building, that's going to be one of the big pushes here in the next few years. It relates to what we've seen in the community. We went out and did a strategic plan, and that was one of the first things people talked about, 'We need these skills.' "
And beyond just the hospitality of the High Plains Library District, it's more than just happenstance Google chose Greeley as one of just three Colorado cities to host the Grow with Google workshop.
Greeley has one of the fastest growing economies in the state, region and country. Small business owners, in particular, are taking advantage -- the jam-packed conference room at Farr Library on Monday provides further evidence.
"Greeley was exciting to us because it's a vibrant entrepreneurial community; there are a lot of small businesses here," said Lauren Lambert, Google's Head of External Affairs for the Southwest United States who resides in nearby Boulder. "Also, Colorado is a state that has had a lot of economic growth in the last 10, 15 years. ... It's exciting for us to think of areas outside of Denver that (Google) can help support."
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