Salem Upsizes Small Businesses with SizeUp

SALEM, Ohio – The 200 or so small businesses that call this city home are now on an equal footing with the world’s largest corporations in terms of access to market research and business intelligence.

And while big companies pay big bucks for that type of information, Salem companies can get it for free.

This week the city and its Sustainable Opportunity Development Center launched SizeUpSalem, an online service that uses big data, cloud computing and computer algorithms to deliver custom analysis for local businesses.

More than 100 cities and organizations across the country subscribe to the service provided by SizeUp Inc., based in Austin, Texas. Four of those entities are in Ohio, the nearest one is the city of Cleveland.

Julie Needs, executive director of the SOD Center, says she “stumbled across” the service and began researching how it works. “The first thing I thought was, ‘There’s no way our little city could afford this kind of technology.’”

Turns out, it could.

SizeUp Inc. prices its service according to the size of the entity for which it culls data. Salem has a population of just under 12,000, so the startup fee was just $7,995 and the annual renewal fee $4,995.
The city agreed to foot the bill.

“In today’s information economy, if you don’t have access to information your business is at a significant disadvantage,” said Mayor John Berlin in a statement released Monday. “With the launch of SizeUp on the SOD Center website, we are empowering our small businesses in Salem to be able to make more data-driven decisions to better operate, succeed, and grow.”

Any company, doing business anywhere, can access industry-specific and hyperlocal information at the SizeUp Salem platform. But the only data they can retrieve – and download in various formats – will pertain to Salem and the immediate region.

A training webinar was conducted Monday by Mario Ubalde from SizeUp Inc., who emphasized the business value and simplicity of the data tools.

Ubalde, director of customer success, showed how business owners and manager can use the web service to benchmark company performance, cost effectiveness and revenues compared to industry peers.

“It’s the same type of data that big businesses and national franchises us to optimize their business decision-making,” he said.

“You can use it to identify your customers, your prospects and even your suppliers. …Whether it’s your competitors, your customers or your suppliers, it works in the way that your business needs to work,” Ubalde said.

The data comes from hundreds of public and proprietary sources covering firmographic (data related to organizations), demographic, geographic, labor, wage, cost, consumer spending, transportation, and more.

The training webinar was recorded and is available for viewing through the SOD Center. Also posted on its website is an “explainer” video.

As much as the web service aids small business, it is a business recruitment tool for the city of Salem and the SOD Center, Needs said.

“Companies outside the area can use the data tools to evaluate performances of their industry in Salem or the region. They can look for potential customers. They can research their supply chain,” she said.

As Needs and her associate, Eva Slagle, meet with business owners to assess their growth needs, they will direct them to SizeUp Salem, show them how it works and why the information is so value.

“Salem is a city of small businesses,” she said. “This is allowing our small businesses to be competitive in today’s marketplace. The technology can benefit our small downtown coffee shop as much as it can benefit our manufacturers who supply products globally.

Pictured at top: Downtown Salem. Image:

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