By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — The Board of Mayor and Burgesses on Tuesday unanimously approved a contract with Karas Co. to provide ongoing upgrades and updates to the town website, Destination Naugatuck.
“It’s a lot of work to maintain it and get everything in it that would be of interest to the town’s people. For example, Peter J. Foley Little League tryouts, cake sales, whatever you think,” Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said. “There’s a million things going on in Naugatuck.”
Former Naugatuck Burgess Jack DeOliveira has been working with Hess on the basic concept, and introduced Karas Co. owner and digital marketing consultant Thomas Karas to Hess.
“Tom really worked on the Naugatuck Portuguese (Club) website,” DeOliveira said. “The club has now gotten a lot more interaction through their website.”
The $14,400 deal will be paid with $5,000 from the town’s clerk fund and $9,400 on a monthly basis starting in the 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The $9,400 already is included in the information technology budget, Hess noted.
DeOliveira said Karas could help bring economic development and new businesses with the upgraded website.
“Right now it’s about maintaining and enhancing the site, consistently, monthly, to help to get more exposure for not only the community of Naugatuck, but also the businesses we help support as well,” Karas said.
A Naugatuck native, Karas said, “Being able to showcase this to the community in the right way is how we’re going to give the businesses the recognition they deserve.”
Karas said the data will be reported monthly from clicks, impressions and determining how much engagement is happening.
Burgess Rocky Vitale asked who will gather the information that may change from month to month. Hess said borough officials will assemble a team of volunteers to assist Karas.
“In essence, what Thomas is doing, he’s going to help take this up to the next level,” IT Director Jim Kallipolites said. “We have information that’s there. We want to help direct the public to more information. It helps grow the town, showcase the town and bring more people in. My staff is going to continue to add things that we do in conjunction with Thomas. We’re going to work together.”
Burgess Charles P. Marenghi said he thinks any money put toward something such as this is worth it.
“You’re talking about portals to our community, and when you’re going on the internet and someone is looking at Naugatuck as a possible business destination or investment, they’re going to Google the town. They’re going to search our town website,” he said. “If you look at it like an exit off the highway, we want to spruce up that first impression people get when they come in.”
Burgess Francis Dambowsky said many towns or companies start off with a beautiful, state-of-the-art website, but it soon falls off.
“Six months later it’s still the same website. There’s nothing updated. There’s nothing changing on it. I think that’s where a lot of companies and towns miss the boat,” he said. “They don’t keep it fresh. That’s what it has to be. It has to be fresh.”
Vitale said he would like to see borough officials connect with real estate agents and the Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce.
Karas said he has been working with the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation in conjunction with this project.