Lance Winslow spearheads network poject.

Chamber plans to offer data about firms by PC
by R. A Hutchinson
Daily News Staff Writer

THOUSAND OAKS  - Facts about area businesses would be at the fingertips of local computer users under plans by the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce to create a link on the information superhighway.

The Chamber wants to establish an open-access network that would allow personal computer users to call up information about member businesses.  Officials said that eventually local businesses could be part of Internet, an international database that would give the companies worldwide exposure.

"We've been exploring an on-line service for some time.  We decided to narrow it down to our own computer network," said chamber president Steve Rubenstein.  "We want to be on the cutting edge.   This will allow businesses, more efficient access to information and is an excellent way for business owners to promote themselves at little cost."

Rubenstein said the Chamber subscribes to Prodigy and America Online, two popular national databases, and members communicate internally with each other via computer.  However, this $25,000 project - the chamber is seeking donations of software and other equipment - would expand that access to the community.

"There are no cons other than ...not everyone has the technological ability to connect to it," he said.

Chamber member and City Council candidate Lance Winslow, who is spearheading efforts to establish the network, said he hopes to have chamber members on line by October.  If successful, Winslow said the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce will the first chamber to establish such a network.

He said a chamber in Palo Alto tried a different approach, listing businesses by name and telephone number.  However, he said the Conejo listing also will include specific information about a business such as its location and the type of services or products it offers.

"We're moving full steam ahead," Winslow said.

He estimates some businesses will be able to triple sales revenue through new customers reached through the network.  Companies will pay about $50 to become part of the network, which covers costs to load information about an individual business into the system.

An additional $3 to $4 fee would be assessed those business owners who want to also become part of Internet.

Winslow said the chamber anticipates either merging or establishing network capabilities with a system the city of Thousand Oaks is developing.  That system is expected to be on-line in February.

Reprinted from the Daily News, August 24, 1994.

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