Monday, May 31, 2010

Pretending to be local?

If you choose to do so, you can use the Internet to target a very small vertical cross-section of the total Internet audience, allowing you to focus on just those things that are of interest to you. Therefore, since the Inland Empire of California is one of four chosen Empoprises focus areas, I was very pleased when my Twitter account was followed by @OntarioCA. But as I read the tweets, I noticed something. See if you can notice it also.

We love Ontario's unique local businesses & they need all of us. Make your Local Pledge now!

Donate to a local charity? Love a local restaurant? Shop the farmers market? Make a My Local Pledge now & tell friends!

If you read these and other tweets, you will note that these tweets are devoid of specific local content. The tweeter (or tweet committee) doesn't make explicit mention of Chaffey High School or Vince's or anything that is actually in Ontario.

The reason becomes apparent when you go to the linked website, My Local Pledge. On the one hand, the website strongly urges people to buy in their local communities. On the other hand, it covers a lot of local communities.

Agoura Hills
Beverly Hills
Chula Vista
Costa Mesa
Culver City
Daly City
Eagle Rock
El Cajon
Hermosa Beach
Huntington Beach
Long Beach
Los Angeles
Los Feliz
Manhattan Beach
Marina Del Rey
Newport Beach
North Hollywood
Palm Springs
Redondo Beach
San Diego
San Francisco
San Jose
Santa Barbara
Santa Clara
Santa Clarita
Santa Monica
Sherman Oaks
Silver Lake
Studio City
Thousand Oaks
Van Nuys
West Hollywood
Woodland Hills

This got me wondering - where is My Local Pledge itself based? If I support My Local Pledge, am I contributing to Ontario? Well, according to a whois search, I'm not:

Registrant Info: (FAST-14284098)
City Sites LLC
Katherine Higgins
1011 East Olive Ave
Burbank, California 91501
United States
Phone: +1.8185667660
Last modified: 2010-04-01 00:36:29 GMT

Well, let's see if I get a response to this tweet:

@OntarioCA Is Vince's open today?

Of course, if I were really smart, I'd tweet that on a Wednesday...

P.S. I just belatedly discovered Vince's Spaghetti's Facebook page.

In praise of San Bernardino International Airport...eventually

When Norton Air Force Base was closed, it converted to an entity with the grandiose name of San Bernardino International Airport. If it hadn't been for September 11, this airport could very well have become a passenger-carrying concern. However, the airport can't serve passenger traffic yet, and may not for some time:

The cost to make San Bernardino International Airport passenger ready for airlines has risen to $92.4 million and will likely rise again....

[T]he Inland Valley Development Agency overseeing the redevelopment of the former Norton Air Force Base approved spending another $5.93 million to finish the airport....

[T]he $5.9 million would mainly be used to secure the airport according to TSA standards.

Of course you can build an airport, but will the airlines come? The recent rocky history of Ontario International Airport, where airlines have departed because of low passenger traffic and high airport fees, suggest that there may be challenges. However, the airport is apparently offering incentives to airlines, and the Inland Valley Development Agency will continue to subsidize the airport.

But will that be enough?

Monday, May 24, 2010

In praise of Ontario International Airport

There are certain things that I will avoid saying if at all possible. For example, I try my hardest to refrain from using the name "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim." (That is literally the first time that I have used this phrase in years.) In fact, I went so far as to rename Arte Moreno to emphasize my dissatisfaction with the name.

Another name that I try to avoid is "LA/Ontario International Airport." However, the airport name can be justified in a way that the baseball team name cannot - the city of Los Angeles actually owns the airport in Ontario.

But if Ontario City Council member Alan Wapner has its way, that might change.

ONT lost nearly 26 percent of its air traffic volume in the past year and also had to deal with a $7 million shortfall to its 2009-10 budget.

In recent years, Wapner said he has noticed a lack of communication when it comes to ONT between LAWA and the city of Los Angeles.

Wapner has also said LAWA has not done enough to lower operating costs and drive more air traffic to ONT.

As a result, Wapner made a request of the Los Angeles City Council.

The city of Los Angeles will study what it would require and what it would stand to lose or gain to return control of Ontario International Airport to the city of Ontario, according to a motion approved 12-3 Monday by the city council.

During a three-minute discussion toward the end of an 11-hour special Los Angeles City Council meeting Monday to talk about the city’s budget crisis, councilmembers Greig Smith and Bill Rosendahl introduced the motion. It requires the city administrative officer, chief legislative analyst and Los Angeles World Airports which owns and operates LAX and Ontario Airport, to research the feasibility of transferring control of the airport to the city of Ontario and report back before Sept. 1.

But does this study truly mean anything?

Rosendahl downplayed the motion as a “courtesy” to the city of Ontario. He said he had received a call from Ontario Councilman and Vice Mayor Alan Wapner.

“They’ve called me, the vice mayor of that, the other day, and he said blah, blah, blah,” Rosendahl said during the meeting, referring to the call from Wapner.

As the city spends a hefty sum to modernize LAX, Rosendahl inferred that traffic would naturally pick up at Ontario airport and, in that case, transferring the airport to the Inland city wouldn’t be necessary.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

@YogurtimeUpland - I am eating my words

At one point I held over a dozen mayorships in Foursquare, but as the service has become more popular, I have lost every one of my mayorships except for one - the mayorship for Yogurtime, a frozen yogurt place at 110 South Mountain in Upland, California.

I've only written about Yogurtime once in my Empoprise-IE Inland Empire blog - in a December 2009 post that looked at the brouhaha between certain customers of Yogurtime and the Upland High Gay-Straight Alliance.

But I did write about Yogurtime at length in my Empoprise-BI business blog - in a post (also from December 2009) that noted that Yogurtime didn't really control the online marketing of their business. Search results for Yogurtime were dominated by results from Yelp and other sources - and by a Yogurtime Twitter page. Just one problem:

Yogurtime's Twitter account ranks very highly in Google search results. Only problem is that this @yogurtime Twitter account is for a Yogurtime in Hong Kong.

So, because I know how to spell SEO, I made a humble suggestion:

So all the folks in Upland need to do is to establish a @yogurtimeupland Twitter account, and hopefully all the third-party content on Yogurtime will be pushed down the search queue....

I'd email Yogurtime with these suggestions...but their email is not listed. Perhaps they'll find this post and at least set up a Twitter account to communicate with their customers online.

And maybe they'll implement privileges for FourSquare mayors. :) One can only hope...

Well, it's now several months later, and I spent a little bit of time on Sunday afternoon in Yogurtime (maintaining my mayorship, of course). While there, I noticed that Yogurtime HAS set up a @YogurtimeUpland Twitter account. While I seriously doubt that my post prompted them to do this - I don't even know if they ever saw my post - I'm glad to see that Yogurtime has joined its Hong Kong brethren in the Twitter world.

The first @YogurtimeUpland tweet was on April 10, and by April 20 they were already offering online specials:

Today only: whisper 3Free to the cashier to receive 3 ounces of yogurt for free!

Unfortunately, not many people know about the Twitter account yet. When I began following the account this afternoon, there were only two other followers. But even though there are only three followers, the Twitter presence is already yielding positive results. While a Google search of "Yogurtime" still results in the Yelp listing being the first entry, the @YogurtimeUpland Twitter account has climbed up to third (after the Foursquare entry). My December 2009 Empoprise-BI blog post has fallen to 19th.

Imagine what will happen when more people find out about the Twitter account. Yogurtime will have more control over their online presence and reputation. And that can be a good thing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Claremont High School's Kori Carter featured in Saturday's Los Angeles Times

I was reading the paper today, and ran across this article on Kori Carter, a hurdler at Claremont High School.

Now I have never been to a Claremont High track meet, but I was talking to someone who happens to know Carter, and apparently the paper describes her fairly accurately.

Here's how Melissa Rohlin started her article:

Before Kori Carter annihilates her high school competitors with her speed, she disarms them with a hug.

The Claremont High senior, one of the top young hurdlers in the nation, approaches each of her adversaries before races, throws her arms around them and says a prayer. Her family said that some people find it endearing, and others find it mystifying.

"I'm just a hugger," Carter said. "It's just how I say hello. It's not that big of a deal to be nice to people."

More here.