Workshops speak to small business owners

“The future is now” was the prevalent message at the “Trends in Telecommunication” community workshops here last Wednesday and Thursday.
Sponsored by the Rainy River Future Development Corp., Northwestern Regional Telecommunications Committee, Bell Canada, FedNor, and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, the purpose of the workshops was to bring everyone from small business owners to educators “up to speed” on how new technologies in telecommunications could affect their lives.
The first workshop last Wednesday evening featured Bill Elliott of Bell Canada demonstrating various types of telecommunications technologies, their uses, and the costs and advantages that go along with them.
One example cited was uses of the Internet in expanding the customer base of a small business.
Afterwards, Ted Couch of the Atikokan Economic Development Corp. noted several businesses which had benefited greatly from using the ’Net.
“There’s this one feminist bookstore in Ottawa that was really experiencing the drawback of being in a niche market,” he said.
“However, one of the owner’s sons was a web page designer, and once they got a web page out there, they were selling books as far away as Africa and Australia.
“A niche market became very successful because they were able to advertise all over the world,” he remarked.
Then on Thursday morning, Northwest Information Systems held a workshop detailing “Trends in Health Informatics,” followed by a presentation by Aadcom on new videoconferencing applications.
The second day wrapped up with “Trends in Distance Education,” where Wayne Sajna-Hebert, director of information technology for Contact North, outlined the future of distance education via videoconferencing at Confederation College.
(Please see a related story in this issue).
Despite spotty turnouts at some of the sessions, attributed to people being unable to get off work, Geoff Gillon of the RRFDC hailed the workshops as an overall success.
“I got real positive feedback from those who attended Wednesday night and the Aadcom demo,” he said yesterday. “I’m already seeing a greater awareness in the community of what telecommunications can do for small businesses.
“From the [RRFDC’s] point of view, we are definitely going to be working with Bell to upgrade the ‘switch’ here in order to allow a broad spectrum of high-quality, affordable telecommunications services,” Gillon pledged.