NORWALK, Conn. -- Google has named Norwalk the digital capital of Connecticut for having the strongest online business community in the state.
Google spokesman William Floyd honored Norwalk with the "eCity Award" at a ceremony Wednesday at the headquarters of Chalk Talk Sports, an online sporting apparel outlet based in the city. Floyd was joined by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, state Sen. Bob Duff, Mayor Harry Rilling and Chalk Talk owners Tom and Julie Lynn.
Tom Lynn said he and wife started Chalk Talk in their garage, and it has grown to a company with 26 full-time employees thanks to recognizing the value of doing business online.
"We realized we needed to take advantage of what was available to us from Google," Lynn said, "and that really helped fuel our business to be able to take advantage of those opportunities."
One eCity was selected in each state for embracing and harnessing the power of the Internet and fueling their local economy, Floyd said. More and more people are using the Internet to find local services, he said. Online companies are twice as likely to grow and hire than businesses without an online presence, Floyd said in touting the award.
"Norwalk is a technologically advanced community, and this is something that just goes to show how true that is," said Rilling.
Blumenthal praised online companies such as Chalk Talk for taking a risk and launching their businesses.
"What we have here is a great success story that is growing and hiring more people and makes us proud to be here today," he said.
"The reality is this is a combined effort, on behalf of the city, which has had a strategy based around becoming a technological hub for Fairfield County, but it's also because we've got so many great entrepreneurial businesses here," said Murphy. "The web, which has the reputation of connecting people to far-off places, is actually now a mechanism to connect people back home."
Himes praised Google for "literally transforming the world and the economy" and pointed to other online companies based in Norwalk such as Priceline, Kayak and FactSet.
"They come to Norwalk because the state of Connecticut and the city of Norwalk is about taking the dreams of people like Tom and Julie and helping make that a reality, helping bring the people together and the information together and all that is necessary to help create those world-beating companies that started right here in Norwalk," Himes said.
Duff spoke about how the Internet has completely changed how he does business as a Realtor, and how it has opened up doors for other companies.
"For a business like Chalk Talk, the Internet becomes a great equalizer, meaning that small companies can actually compete with large companies," Duff said.
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