Google's most recent report touts $22 billion economic impact in Illinois from online tools

Charlie Mayer, second from left, CEO of The Spice House, which was featured in Google's latest Economic Impact Report  

An Illinois gourmet spice shop is among the small businesses featured in Google's latest economic impact report, which detailed how about 41,000 businesses in Illinois benefited from the use of Google's search and advertising tools to connect with customers and generate $22 billion in economic activity.

"All of our advertising is digital," Charlie Mayer, CEO of The Spice House, a gourmet spice shop with locations in Chicago, Evanston and Milwaukee, was quoted in Google's Economic Impact Report for the U.S. in 2018, released earlier this week.

The Spice House uses Google My Business to boost visibility in the Google search engine and other tools.

"We're a 100 percent Google shop," Mayer said in the report. "There are plenty of companies that use Google products, but we've embraced them wholeheartedly, and they make our business better."

In 2018, Mayer took over as CEO of The Spice House, owned by second-generation spice merchants Tom and Patty Erd.

"Spices are a really interesting product for the internet," Mayer said in the Google report. "If you've ever been to one of our stores, it's a sensory experience."

Following about six decades of family ownership, Charlie became The Spice House's first outside leader and soon tackled the conundrum of how to take that sensory experience online.

"We've really tried to build on the brand value that has existed for a long time and push it onto the internet," he said.

This is the tenth year that Google has released its Economic Impact Report.

The history of the modern Internet, usable by more than just researchers and academics, stretches back only to 1983 when ARPANET adopted TCP/IP and developers began to assemble what they called the "network of networks." Today, the Internet connects communities of all sizes, "creating exciting new possibilities for businesses across the United States," said Mary Ellen Coe, president of Google Customer Solutions, in the introduction of the report.

In 2018, search and advertising tools at Google helped to provide about $335 billion in economic activity for more than 1.3 million businesses, website publishers and nonprofits in the U.S., according to the report. Each month during that year, Google drove more than 1 billion direct connections, such as calls and online reservations, to businesses nationwide while more than 35 percent of clicks for U.S. businesses advertising on Google came from offshore.

"It was incredibly rewarding this past year to see the power of technology at work for so many different kinds of businesses," Coe said. "It helps a brick-and-mortar business like Amini’s — a specialty furniture store in St. Louis, Missouri — build an e-commerce strategy that puts its website at the center of its work. It lets a rural business like Fuller’s Sugarhouse share its maple syrup with customers in Switzerland, France, Australia, Brazil and Mexico– far beyond its hometown of Lancaster, New Hampshire."

The Internet is particularly important for small businesses that use advanced digital tools, including online advertising and data analytics, according to the Google report. Those small businesses experienced revenue growth in 2018 at a rate four time higher than that of "less digitally advanced businesses," the report said.

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