SageStone, CMC To Honor Web Designers
GRAND RAPIDS — Proud of your Web site? Work in Kent County? If both answers are yes, then SageStone Inc. and the Community Media Center definitely want to hear from you.
SageStone, a Grand Rapids-based e-business software consulting and technology firm, has joined with the CMC to recognize the best-designed, local virtual sites in the first annual CMC/SageStone Web Site Competition. Winners will be named at an awards banquet on May 15 at the Eberhard Center on the downtown campus of Grand Valley State University.
Arts and entertainment, commerce, community, education, government and health are the eligible categories. SageStone will also honor the top sites designed by teens; it's the second consecutive year the company will do that.
"The goal of the competition is to teach high school students responsible use of the Web and then have them showcase their Web sites to their peers. The result is a positive use of technology," said Carolyn Reminga, marketing solutions director for SageStone.
"The finalists not only have to orally present their Web sites before a panel of judges, they also have to write a paper," she said.
Two dozen teams from 15 high schools entered the SageStone competition last year, and the top five walked away with prizes.
"When we heard what the Community Media Center was doing, it seemed like a very natural fit to come on board and join forces to showcase all the talents that we have," said Reminga.
"We want to honor the work of Web designers in West Michigan … give them some credit for their work and show off their wares and their talents," added CMC Executive Director Dirk Koning. "Then on top of it all, we hope that it is somewhat of a small fundraiser for the Media Center so we can continue our Digital Divide efforts."
CMC is trying to close what it calls the Digital Divide, where certain residents are denied access to technology usually due to a lack of education or income, or race. Ameritech Inc. gave CMC $80,000 to equip a van with a dozen wireless laptops that will provide these residents with Internet training, e-mail access and job-skills development. The Media Center calls the van its Web on Wheels.
"The wireless laptops go right out to the truck, from the truck to our network operating center, and then out to the Internet. So they will have pretty speedy, wireless Internet access," said Koning, whose center operates GRTV, WYCE-FM and Grand Net.
Koning has lined up some commercial applications to help fund the van once it gets rolling. Streaming conferences, meetings and keynote speakers across TV and the Internet are the types of things that CMC will be doing with it.
"Once we're on site, we can video tape somebody, digitize it, send it through the wireless connection to our network operating center and out on the Internet," he said. "There are all kinds of uses for this Web on Wheels."
Another part of the effort to close the divide involves creating a map of where these people live, so walk-up Internet access can be established for them at nearby public locations. Koning credited the Grand Rapids Community Foundation with making the mapping project possible through a $9,000 grant it gave the Media Center last week.
As for SageStone, it recently was added to the prestigious Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Program for its Web-based software technology work for business clients.
"With our Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status and our staff of e-business and e-commerce experts, SageStone continues its commitment to provide our customers the most advanced, high-quality software solutions," said Keith Brophy, president and CEO.
Entry forms for the Web site competition are available at the Media Center, 711 Bridge St. NW, and online at www.grcmc.org/webcompetition. It costs $25 to enter, with all proceeds going to the Digital Divide effort. The competition is restricted to residents, companies and organizations in Kent County. The entry deadline is April 16.
"There are a lot of Web sites out there and nobody has a Web site competition yet in this town," said Koning. "All this energy goes into Web sites, so let's feature a few, let's profile a few."