September 28, 2009 By Matt Williams
GovDelivery is reasserting its roots in local government with Monday's announcement it has acquired social network GovLoop.
GovDelivery, a provider of "government-to-citizen" communications platforms via software-as-a-service subscriptions, was founded in 2001 as a public-private partnership with St. Paul, Minn. By acquiring GovLoop, a Facebook-style Web site for government employees, one of the company's goals is to facilitate more "government-to government" collaboration among employees who are working in state and local agencies.
"The first point of integration will be doing things to help people who are receiving updates on particular topics from the government through GovDelivery -- if an agency is interested, they'll be able to create spaces within GovLoop where additional collaboration and cooperation can happen," GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns told Government Technology.
GovLoop has grown rapidly since the network was started in May 2008. Steve Ressler, the social network's founder, said Monday that 18,000 members have signed up so far. Ressler said it's a misnomer that GovLoop is a federally focused Web site. Fifty percent of members work in the federal government, while 30 percent come from the state or local level, he said.
"I think since state and local is so dispersed, they need homes like GovLoop even more than others," Ressler said.
Ressler said the acquisition will allow him to work on the site full-time -- he had been working on it after-hours around his job as a government employee -- and will make GovLoop an operating division within GovDelivery.
Burns said GovDelivery's nationwide reach -- the company has customers in the federal government, 30 states, and local departments and transit agencies -- should drive more local government participation in GovLoop. Ressler said he wants to grow the social network to 100,000 members in the next year, and evolve the site so that it becomes a "knowledge network where people solve real government problems."
GovDelivery sends more than 150 million government messages to citizens each month through e-mail, RSS, and mobile and text messaging. Burns said he wanted to work with GovLoop because it presents a critical audience of people who rely upon incorporating information to do their jobs.
"We've seen firsthand the potential power of cities, counties, and state agencies working better together and working better with the federal government," Burns said.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.