SPRINGFIELD — Google business search results — those now-familiar listings of names, hours and locations — are life and death for anyone trying to sell anything in the online digital world.
On Monday, Google brought its “Grow with Google” event complete with seminars, product demonstrations and one-on-one coaching to the MassMutual Center. The Silicon Valley giant said 1,500 people registered to learn more about its suite of office applications like Google Sheets spreadsheets and Google Docs documents as well as Google Arts & Culture online museum and library collections.
“Google is it,” said Cheryl Evans, an IT professional from New Milford, Connecticut. “You used to have two worlds, the Steve Jobs Apple world and everybody else. But Google is now both art and commerce. You need to be in their world to survive.”
She’s trying to restart her tech career after a five-year hiatus.
“And in the tech world, you have to relearn everything if you’ve been gone five minutes. Everything moves so fast,” she said.
At Monday’s event, Google said it granted FutureWorks Career Center in Springfield a $100,000 sponsorship. The money will help FutureWorks teach Google’s Applied Digital Skills curriculum to job seekers. They’ll also learn how to use the Google for Jobs platform. Google for Jobs uses artificial intelligence to match people up with jobs and attract new workers.
Kevin Lynn, executive director of FutureWorks, said FutureWorks gets 14,000 to 16,000 job seekers through its doors each year. He said Google skills are as useful on the job as they are during a job search.
Stephanie Stoudenmire, of Huntington, was at “Grow with Google” looking for ways to make two business websites more visible on the web — her father James Stoudenmire’s Clockworks, which offers clock movements and parts as well as cleaning and repair services to owners of quality timepieces, and her online clothing business Whip City Relics.
She was especially concerned about search engine optimization — making sure a Google search for “clock Western Mass” gets you to her Dad’s site — as well as online security.
“These are businesses we run out of our homes,” she said.
Google started Grow with Google events in 2017. Springfield is the ninth city to host one and the first in Massachusetts.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said Google’s decision to come here is a reflection of the positives going on the city with MGM Springfield, the CRRC MA rail car factory and other developments.
“There is a buzz in this room,” he said. “And it is happening in Springfield.”
U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, spoke of the importance of the free flow of information in a democracy and of local efforts to expand broadband high-speed internet to Western Massachusetts hilltowns like Huntington.
“I was an early adopter of technology,” Neal said. “Even though I’m sometimes intimidated by it.”
Great day at #GrowWithGoogle event in #Springfield. Hundreds of entrepreneurs, students, job seekers, & small business owners learning about how to improve their workforce skills. pic.twitter.com/5AP3hpwQZr
— Rep. Richard Neal (@RepRichardNeal) July 9, 2018
He said the most recent Republican-authored federal tax law should have directed the cuts into tax credits encouraging research into job-creating technologies.
Anyone still thirsty for high-tech knowledge has another opportunity because Google isn’t the only tech giant doing an event in Springfield — Facebook will bring its Community Boost education program for small businesses to the city Sept. 10 and 11.