Grow With Google brings digital skill development to Pueblo
Tech giant dangles $1M in grants to Colorado nonprofits
Gurus from Google came to Pueblo's Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library on Aug. 23 to help nonprofit organizations and small businesses navigate the increasingly digital world.
In addition to four "Grow With Google" workshops offering digital resources and strategies, experts met one on one with people who came from all over Colorado to take advantage of the free coaching.
Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar addressed the many entrepreneurs, educators, librarians and community workers, applauding them for seeking to use Grow With Google's resources to expand their reach and influence beyond the city to other states and beyond.
"With the steel mill no longer the largest employer in the state of Colorado, we are a resilient community," he said, standing in a library that's become a bright spot among hollowed-out storefronts and struggling businesses. "The biggest factor is you, our people, what made this community vibrant. You are the key to our success and that is why we must keep investing in you.
"For Pueblo to be competitive, we need to be investing in digital skills," Gradisar continued. "The nature of work and our workforce is changing. It won't be long before people won't be going to offices to work, they'll be working from home. These workshops will help you prepare for that day."
Call centers offering customer service jobs, many remote or home-based, have been among Pueblo's major employers in recent years, along with healthcare organizations and schools.
Attendees at the packed workshops learned how to set up Google My Business pages, reach customers with pay-per-click online advertising and navigate resources for both business owners and managers and nonprofit leaders looking to empower their community.
Lauren Lambert, Google’s head of external affairs for Colorado and the Southwest, announced that Google.org will award $1 million in grants to nonprofits across Colorado that apply for the funding by Sept. 30. A panel of five Colorado judges will choose the five winning applications that will share the bounty ($175,000 each; the winner with the most public votes will receive an additional $125,000).
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis also addressed attendees Friday afternoon. He said it's easier to start a business today than it was in years past, when he entered e-commerce, due to tools like those offered by Google.
"It's extremely important to make sure that Pueblo is positioned to thrive in the 21st century technology," Polis said.
The governor said that every time he talks with Google representatives, he tells them it's nice that they visit Pueblo but they should really find a way to have a permanent presence there.
"Maybe with the skills and enthusiasm that we generate today, we'll help ensure that we put Pueblo permanently on the map for Google," he said.
Grow With Google also offered workshops earlier in the week in Greeley and Boulder.
Photos by Jayson Peters