ONLINE entrepreneur Dave Heggie continues to build his tourism and business website, Summerland NSW with Summerland CreditUnion taking up a sponsorship deal.
The credit union will provide fin- ancial comments, tips and hints through the blog site.
Mr Heggie launched Summerland NSW (http://summerland-nsw.com) in April 2011, aiming to change the way councils, business and tourism enterprises in the region communicate with each other.
He felt these groups were too locked in to shire boundaries toeffectively promote the tourism experience across the whole region.
"Tourists don't recognise boundaries between shires," he said.
"But it's difficult for councils and tourism bodies to step outside of their boundaries because their funding is based on these territorial models."
So Mr Heggie set up his site based around 16 local towns from Grafton to Coolangatta to make it easy for visitors to see what was available across the entire region.
"We want to create as much community feeling in the Summerland region as possible," he said.
"I want to encourage people to smile at each other and talk about what is important."
"We are trying to empower people to use the online space and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to market their businesses.
But Mr Heggie said it can be an uphill battle when in places such as the Clarence Valley, up to 50% of businesses don't have an online presence or use online media or email.
"If a business does not have an online presence they are allowing customers to walk past their door." .
Aside from each location having a web page, local businesses can also create a one-page micro site for $110 per year.
Mr Heggie provides plenty of fact sheets online to make it easy for the novice site owners to create and maintain their sites.
"For an additional $50 per year we can put the pages together and maintain the site as well as taking care of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)," he said..
SEO involves making sure that all the content and metadata on a site is optimised so the site is easily found by search engines such as Google, which 90% of people use when searching the web.
With the Commonwealth Games due to be held on the Gold Coast in 2018, Mr Heggie has recently included Coolangatta on the website so future visitors to the games will be aware of what the North Coast region has to offer.