City trying out Net platform to give small business a lift

The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore will be the first U.S. city to pilot a new social-networking technology to help small businesses expand their global reach, the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce announced yesterday.

Mayor Sheila Dixon endorsed the Internet-linked networking system, Toronto-based MarketTiger Inc. (, at a launch event at the chamber's headquarters.

"It puts all the resources of the Chamber of Commerce immediately out there so people can find businesses faster," said Sterling Clifford, the mayor's spokesman.

MarketTiger would enable Baltimore-based small businesses to market their products internationally, giving them an online platform to connect with customers and suppliers, added Ian Brennan, Dixon's deputy press secretary. It would help businesses gain a Web presence even if they lack an extensive knowledge of technology. E-mail alerts through MarketTiger would notify the businesses when buyers or sellers wish to negotiate a transaction. Payments could be sent and received electronically through the system, according to MarketTiger.

The pilot program comes at no cost to the city, and there is no obligation to use any of its services, according to the Chamber of Commerce. MarketTiger's earnings are based on online advertising associated with its Web site and on additional fees for some transactions that it facilitates.

The start-up company approached city officials about using its services, said Maurice Dixon, president of the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce. The city's Small Business Resource Center is overseeing the initial three-month pilot period.

"It's a small business program for a global economy," Dixon said.

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