The following content is a press release that was provided by the communications team behind Grow With Google;

Visiting Google presenters and coaches hosted free “Grow with Google” workshops today at the Newport Public Library, with onsite instruction provided to local jobseekers and small business leaders on integral digital skills needed in today’s business environment. Grow with Google, the tech company’s initiative to help create economic opportunities for Americans, has been touring the state hosting digital skills events.

“We’re excited to bring the national Grow with Google tour to Rhode Island, and to be here in Newport. Over the course of the day, we helped more than one hundred people learn new skills that are critical in today’s digital economy. And, to extend the impact of today’s event, we trained 100 trainers from libraries, schools, and nonprofits across the region so that they can share these free resources with their communities going forward,” said Erica Swanson, Google’s Head of Community Engagement.

Google worked with Newport organizations to attract workshop attendees and promote the role of small businesses in Newport’s current and future economic success. Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea was onsite at today’s event in support of Google’s digital training efforts. Workshops focused on digital skills, coding, online safety, data analytics and improving online business presence. One-on-one coaching sessions also took place with personal instruction on Google Spreadsheets and other GSuite tools.

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“Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy. We must do everything we can to provide them the data and tools they need to succeed,” said Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea. “I was thrilled to be able to share how my office is using technology to transform mountains of data into usable information for people looking to start or grow their business in Rhode Island.”

Grow with Google has been on a national tour in partnership with America’s libraries. The tour will host digital skills workshops in libraries in all 50 states and will aim to support libraries’ digital skills offerings on an ongoing basis. Three quarters of public libraries assist patrons with job applications and interviewing skills, and 90% offer basic digital skills training.

Furthermore, Grow with Google delivers digital skills trainings directly to jobseekers and small businesses in their community. Google will also train library staff and nonprofit leaders on a range of Grow with Google’s free tools and curriculum they can use to help their patrons on a daily basis. Google staff will also lead hands-on workshops about online marketing for small businesses, search engine optimization, and spreadsheet basics. Attendees can also sign up for one-on-one training with Google staff.

To support their effort, the initiative created the Grow with Google Partner Program to empower nonprofits, libraries, government agencies, educational institutions and other organizations with a range of digital skills resources. Organizations apply to the program and once accepted can use it as a hub for training content, tools and promotional materials. Partners can leverage customized toolkits for getting started, hosting trainings, and sharing Grow with Google programs and resources with their community.

Starting Monday, June 3, libraries in Rhode Island will be able to apply for funds to kickstart their own digital skills programming. Last year, Grow with Google committed $1 million in microgrants to libraries across the country, through their partnership with the American Library Association.

According to Google research, four in five consumers use search engines to find information about local businesses, but forty-seven percent of U.S. small businesses don’t have a website – and only thirty-seven percent have claimed or updated their business information on a search engine.

“Despite a vibrant downtown and many thriving small businesses, the city of Newport is not immune to the problems that face many jobseekers and community stakeholders. We are attuned to the desire of our patrons to learn more about emerging technologies and to sharpen their digital skills,” said Joe Logue, Director of the Newport Public Library. “That is why, in the Newport Public Library’s 150th year of service to the community, we are excited to partner with Grow With Google. By holding classes, one-on-one training and workshops, Google is helping Rhode Islanders meet and exceed the requirements of today’s employers. This has long been the Library’s goal, and we are honored to have this mission ratified by the Google team.”

Specifically, Grow with Google aims to help address the skills gap by preparing Americans for middle-skill jobs, positions that require some skills but not four year degrees. According to the National Middle Skills Initiative, middle skills jobs account to 52% of Rhode Island’s labor force. A recent study by Burning Glass and Capital One found that more than 8 in 10 middle-skill jobs (82%) require digital skills. Overall, middle-skill jobs average $20 per hour.

In their 2018 Economic Impact Report, Google announced that 2,900 organizations in the state generated $398 million in economic activity by using Google’s search and advertising tools. The full report details Google’s economic impact state-by-state, and features the stories of businesses fueling that growth, creating job opportunities, and transforming their communities.

According to the American Library Association, nearly three-quarters of public libraries assist their patrons with job applications and interviewing skills, 90% help their patrons learn basic digital skills, and just under half provide access and assistance to entrepreneurs looking to start a business of their own.

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