ACEnet: Facilitating Economic Development Through Small Business Electronic Commerce
Craig Van Slyke (University of Central Florida, USA), France Belanger (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA) and Marcy Kittner (University of Tampa, USA)
Copyright: © 2006
With the advent of Web-based electronic commerce (e-commerce), businesses of all sizes rushed to take advantage of the potential of e-commerce technologies. While large organizations often have ready access to the resources necessary to implement ecommerce strategies, smaller organizations may lack some or all of these resources. Conversely, the increased reach facilitated by e-commerce may allow some small businesses to be viable in areas where limited access to customers might otherwise prevent success. This increased reach may be particularly beneficial in economically depressed rural areas, which may stand to gain greatly from the economic development potential of small businesses. Small businesses in general, and rural small businesses in particular, face a number of hurdles that must be overcome if they are to benefit from e-commerce. This case describes how a not-for-profit agency, the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet), facilitates the use of e-commerce by rural small businesses as a part of an overall strategy for spurring economic development through small businesses. ACEnet provides a number of resources that help small businesses take advantage of e-commerce, including computer labs, Web site hosting, consultative services, and technical and business training. This case illustrates how these services help rural small businesses overcome many of the barriers to successful implementation of e-commerce.