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By Jim Tierney

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Journal inquirer VERNON - Economic development is the main area targeted by the town's foray into the Internet world. A relatively new development in town is its own Web page, which was launched in January by Jeffrey Cohen, a member of the town's Economic Development Commission. Cohen, who owns and operates ImageWorks, a computer graphics/ Web design company in town, coordinates Vernon's Web page. "What we've really done is we have the EDC job bank listing on the Web page," Cohen said. "Now, it's publicized out there and anyone can take a look at it. The information is constantly updated. It's generally served better by private organizations than by towns."
Cohen has created Web pages for other towns. "I just kind of decided that I was living in town and thought it would be good to put out a lot of promotional material," he said. "Since the site went up, it's been going gangbusters. We offer low-cost advertising to local businesses. We already have 150 local businesses on it." Various town information, from local weather to local movie times, also are included on the town's Web page, Cohen said. Before starting his own business, Cohen previously worked a senior information systems analyst for the Traveler's Insurance Co. in Hartford.

"We're currently running about 600 to 800 hits per month, "Cohen said. "For a town the size of Vernon, it's probably twice what our expectations were." Cohen said the town's Web site is funded strictly by the local businesses, who pay between $300-$500 per year. "We give customers an identification number and password, and they can log on and change their advertisement whenever they choose," he said.

Thomas Joyce Jr., the town's economic development director, said that the Connecticut Economic Resource Center uses the Internet as its primary way of sending and receiving site search information, including the listing of properties and the reporting of site and space inquiries. In addition, Joyce has been contacted by snore developers, brokers, and businesses who expect to communicate through the Internet.

"My jobs bulletin started last month on the Web page, "Joyce said. "We've become pretty reliant on Jeff's advice. It has a tremendous following. We're distributing about 175 job bulletins per week. The Internet will be a useful addition for the town."

Joyce said the town recently purchased a digital camera that can take pictures of properties to be used on the Internet.

"Our Web location and address will be added to our stationery and property listings," he said. "It will be a big efficiency. I think we're the only municipality around doing the jobs bulletin, which benefits people looking for employment and for people looking to hire." Vernon's Web site is www.VERNONCT.com. For further information, contact Cohen at 647-7725. "It's pretty overwhelming, "Cohen said. "It's constantly getting bigger.





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