Why Google named Whitefish the "digital capital" of Montana

Sep 17, 2013

Google says its e-cities have a strong online presence with businesses across the community using websites, blogs, and social media to connect with their clients.
Credit flikr/twbuckner

Google annually recognizes one city from each state as that states “e-city.” An e-city has a strong presence online with businesses across the community using websites, blogs, and social media to connect with their clients. It’s also a community made up of businesses that show a strong likelihood of growth in the digital economy. For 2013 in Montana Google chose Whitefish. Chief Product Officer John Frandsen of Old Town Creative said he’s not so surprised Whitefish won out.

“There is a, kind of a next generation of business growth in places like Montana, and especially in the places like Montana that have vibrant communities, and great landscapes, and natural assets because, that’s the kind of places where talented people want to live and work,”  Frandsen said.

Frandsen said Old Town Creative Develops internet software focusing on location; they work with organizations and businesses who want an online, interactive map on their page.

Montana Coffee Traders has its Roastery on Highway 93 just south of Whitefish. It also has cafes in downtown Kalispell, Whitefish, and Columbia Falls. But Coffee Trainer Coordinator Katie Carlson says that’s not the only place to buy the Montana roasted coffee.

“Travelers come to the Flathead Valley, they experience our stores, coffee, baked goods, merchandise, come to the roaster, have a tour and a tasting, and then head back home, and they’re able to connect back with their travel experience in Whitefish through our website,” Carlson said

Customers can order coffee, get a guide to coffee roasting, grinding, and brewing, and find café locations at the company’s website.

Google recognizes an “e-city” in each state as that states digital capital. It contracts with the company Ipsos  to find these cities. First Ipsos puts together a list of all U-S cities, broken down by population size. Google calculates the top 5 cities for each state using AdWords data. AdWords is Google’s main advertising product where companies use certain keywords and pay to come up higher in Google’s search results. They then looked at a sample of businesses operating in those cities, analyzing web presence including whether businesses had blogs, offered e-commerce, and maintained a social media presence.

Other digital capitals chosen by Google include New York City, Park City, Utah, Atlanta, Georgia, Bainbridge Island, Washington, and Fargo, North Dakota.