When Google announced its 2014 eCity list of the country's most tech-friendly metropolises, some Vermonters reacted, "Stowe? Really?"
— Elaine Young (@ejyoung67) October 16, 2014
The list only includes one municipality per state, so it came as a bit of a surprise for Stowe to beat out tech-savvy Burlington or even Randolph – home of Vermont Technical College. Besides, Stowe isn't even a city. It is, however, home to some big-time tech companies, at least by Vermont standards. A Google press release points to businesses like Inntopia, an online travel reservation system; PAR Springer-Miller Systems, which builds management solutions for hotels; and the biggest game in town, Stowe Mountain Resort.
“Stowe serves as a prime example of how innovation and growth in e-commerce can successfully contribute to bolstering economic progress and competitiveness,” said Matt Dunne, Vermonter and Head of Google Community Affairs. “Google is proud to recognize Stowe’s accomplishment, and the role it plays in creating Vermont jobs.”
Google worked with the independent research firm Ipsos in a two-step process to come up with the list. The first step was developing a short list of five municipalities per state by calculating AdWords penetration relative to population size. This is where Stowe's small size worked to its advantage. The second step of the process looked at the online practices of a random sample of local businesses, including whether the business had a website, e-commerce, a social media presence, a blog and other factors.
Stowe was not the only small town on the list to beat out big cities. The Long Island hamlet of Hauppauge is New York's 2014 eCity. The Boston suburb of Needham made the list for Massachusetts. In Illinois, Effingham, population 12,500, beat out Chicago.
Lisa Hagerty, the chair of the Stowe Select Board, said her town is proud of the new distinction.
"We are thrilled to be chosen as the 2014 Google eCity in Vermont in recognition and celebration of our robust e-business community,” she commented. "Stowe's extraordinary natural surroundings, active and growing e-economy and authentic bricks and mortar Main Street make it one of the best places in the world to live, work and visit. We look forward maintaining our status as a cutting edge eCity."
Watch out Burlington, it sounds like Stowe has thrown down the gauntlet.