The world's most famous search engine touted itself as an economic engine Tuesday, announcing they'd helped Illinois companies generate $3.2 billion in the state economy.
In a first for the search giant, Google released economic data on a state-by-state basis, trying to show that the California-based search giant is part of the local business community as well. Nationally, the company says it has helped generate $54 billion for state economies.
Local business owners say the Google effect is no joke.
"We sell unique items," says Sean Harper, a founder of TSS Radio, one of the nearly 58,000 Illinois companies and websites that take advantage of Google's AdWords services. TSS Radio sells antennas and power supplies. "If we really want to find a customer who is looking for that item, you can’t do that with radio, you can’t do that with television, you use a search engine. It’s the best way to do that sort of thing."
When Harper and his partner Taylor Mitchell started TSS Radio back in 2004, it was just the two of them working out of a cramped Los Angeles apartment. Now the satellite radio accessory company has 15 employees and more than 250,000 customers served from its third floor warehouse on Chicago’s Northwest side.
Last year, TSS Radio was ranked 98th on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies. That's partly due to Google, they say.
TSS Radio says more than a quarter of its business comes through Google. Much of it, Mitchell says, through the organic searches rather than the paid for ads. “The first time we put up an ad,” he says, “we started getting sales in…it was magical.”
Google said it also affects the state economy by investing in local philanthropy through its Google Grants program. Last year, 160 recipients from Rotary International to the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust received more than $3.8 million.
Google has also set up shop in Chicago, employing 300 programmers, engineers and advertising sales people in offices on Kinzie Street across from Harry Cary’s.
The company is working with the city and the CTA with its Google Maps program to help people take advantage of mass transit. It has been a good relationship according to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
"They become a partner in every city they work with; especially here in the Midwest and in Chicago," he said.
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