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IBM Hits the Road to Bring e-business to Small Businesses

Multi-city Tour Delivers Expert Advice, Hands-on Web Experience to Small-Business Owners' Doorsteps

Baltimore - 30 May 2000: -- In an effort to help small-business owners get on the express lane to e-business, IBM Global Small Business today launched the Small Business e-Cities Tour here in downtown Baltimore's famed Inner Harbor. A tractor-trailer loaded with IBM offerings and staffed with experts will tour the US, showing small-business owners how they can use the Internet to improve their bottom line, simply, quickly and affordably.

The e-Cities Tour is designed to walk small-business owners through the various stages of Internet adoption and help them to choose easy, cost-effective Internet solutions. The tour showcases the company's newest small-business offerings, including subscription services, hardware, software, financing solutions, and specific IBM small-business resources. Among them is IBM's Web Starter Kit, a new package that gives small businesses their own Web site, custom-designed, built and hosted by IBM for less than $500. Also featured is IBM's award-winning Small Business WebConnections, which gives a company e-mail for up to 100 employees, web access and more for a single monthly subscription that starts at $99.

"We want every business to be an e-business," said Mike Braun, General Manager, IBM Global Small Business. "Small-business owners know they must become e-businesses to grow and prosper in the new economy. But it's hard for them because many don't have the resources, skills and time to learn what they need to do and then integrate all the technology. That's why we're going on the road with the e-cities Tour -- to show small businesses how the pieces fit together."

Small Business Experts Offer Individual Consultations
Small businesses can meet with IBM experts who will help tailor their e-business programs and give them hands-on opportunities to test IBM solutions. IBM representatives will be available to answer every question small- business may have -- from "What is an e-business?" to "How do I sell over the Web?" "We want to reach out and touch small business owners and help them take advantage of technologies designed specifically for them," added Braun. "We want them to know that IBM has the solutions they need, that we're here with the support they need, and that we're ready to work with them."

Small Business 2000 TV Host Hattie Bryant Offers Advice
Hattie Bryant, small-business expert and host of the public television series " Small Business 2000," will travel with the e-Cities Tour with advice for small-business owners. "Small businesses don't need to spend an arm and a leg to use the Internet to grow their business," said Ms. Bryant. "Many small-business owners don't have their own in-house technology staff, so the industry needs to be there with easy to use and affordable solutions. We also know that small-business owners want to use more technology, but are apprehensive about making the right choices. The e-Cities Tour will demonstrate IBM solutions that eliminate these concerns."

Phase one of the e-Cities tour kicks off today in Baltimore, with scheduled stops in the coming weeks in Minneapolis, Nashville, Atlanta, and Raleigh and Charlotte, NC. More information regarding the e-Cities Tour is available at www.ibm.com/smallbusiness/webstart.

Small Business is Engine of US Economy
According to the US Small Business Administration and private research, more than 99 percent of all US employers are small businesses, and more than 80 percent of new jobs have been created by small businesses. Further, small businesses contribute nearly half of all US sales and are responsible for 50 percent of the GNP.

"This is an extremely important group for the US economy," said Braun. "We want them to thrive and to grow, and to know that we have the technology and the know-how to help them compete in an environment where their size doesn't matter--only their business matters."

Contact(s) information

Sabrina Lanosa
IBM
(914) 642-4203
lanosa@us.ibm.com

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