Chester Co. hopes better Web site lures industry

CHESTER -- The fear of losing industry and the need for a fresh online look have spurred Chester County leaders to shop for a new Web site designer.

County officials say they don't expect to renew a contract next month with the Rock Hill company that maintains the county's Web site, www.chestercounty.org, because the company doesn't update the site frequently enough.

"This has been an ongoing problem," Councilman Tommy Martin said during last week's council meeting. "It's just not a good Web site, and it's so out of date."

Last week, the site's list of county e-mail contacts included people who haven't worked for the county in more than a year, Councilman Alex Oliphant said. The list even named Carl Tate as the county's fire coordinator.

Tate died in August 2006.

Although the contact list has been updated, the site still contains old material that Oliphant fears could hurt the county's chances of landing industry.

"It's another form of curb appeal," he said of the Web site. "When industries come and look at us, a lot of times we can get eliminated by a Web site alone."

The county signed a contract nearly a year ago with the company MyWebSiteGuys.com. The county paid about $1,500 for the company to maintain the site, which leaders say hasn't been done.

The owner of the company could not be reached for comment. An online portfolio posted on MyWebSiteGuys.com claims the company designed Web sites for the Lexington County Economic Development office, the Clarendon County Development Board and the Chester County Chamber of Commerce.

The company also designed a site for Ralph Norman's unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. House last year.

Keeping pace with other counties

County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey said the county is "definitely going with somebody else" to handle the Web site. He also said the county is looking for a company that will regularly maintain the site and "spruce it up."

The county needs to make drastic improvements to the site, said Josette Walton, a Fishing Creek area resident who surfed the Web pages just to see what the county offered.

"There's just nothing there," she said. "To me, if you're going to even bother to have a Web site, have it up-to-date and have some information on it. ... It was just void of everything that should be 21st century."

Walton said cities such as York, Winnsboro and Union have much better sites.

"I've even gone to Saluda County, which is even as poor, if not poorer, than Chester County," she said. "And theirs is much more appealing."

If the county really wants to make its Web site worthwhile, Walton said, that means investing in it.

"If you're going to bring industry to this county, you're going to have to spend money somewhere," she said.