When their 10-year-old daughter asked if she could raise alpacas on the family ranch, Jim and Kelley Hobart figured, “Why not?” They welcomed the animals onto their land and soon thereafter discovered the many benefits of alpaca wool. It was soft, durable, warm and eco-friendly—it had to be shared with the rest of the world. To the delight of their daughter and alpaca lovers everywhere, the Hobarts launched Alpaca Direct in 2005, producing quality yarns and apparel made from the unique fiber.
Jim and Kelley never imagined that a curious request from their youngest daughter would transform into a full-fledged business, or that a small storefront in Hayden, ID, would become a popular travel destination for knitting enthusiasts worldwide. Yet today Alpaca Direct is at the heart of a vibrant and global knitting community. With the help of the web, they’ve brought the warmth of alpaca wool to more than 100,000 customers across 30 countries. As Kelley says, “With Google tools, we can do that, and [customers] can be part of our community.”
In 2016, Google’s search and advertising tools helped provide $222 billion of economic activity for 1.5 million businesses, website publishers, and nonprofits across the U.S. Our 2016 Economic Impact Report explores that economic impact state-by-state and the local businesses that are helping to drive it.
While working on a small leather goods line in New York City, Tanya Menendez and Matthew Burnett realized how difficult it was to find local manufacturers. In an effort to democratize that access, the two started Maker’s Row, an online marketplace that helps small businesses find American factories to make their products. They use AdWords to both establish factory partnerships and find new customers, and YouTube to, as Tanya describes, “put a face behind the products that are made in the United States.” In five years, the company has helped 120,000 small businesses source and create products in 11,000 American factories.
After serving as a U.S. Marine for six years, Nick Baucom founded a company, Two Marines Moving, in Alexandria, Virginia. His goal was to keep his fellow veterans gainfully employed, while giving local residents a moving option they could trust. Today, Two Marines Moving employs more than 100 veterans. They use Search and AdWords not only to find customers, but also to recruit employees. Nick has opened a second location in Florida and hopes to create job opportunities for 500 veterans in the next five years, vowing that “veterans will always have a home here.”
Across the U.S., businesses large and small are using the web to find their customers, grow, and make an impact. We’re proud to be part of their stories.