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I-Open Selects Near-Time to Help Drive Community Development through Web Integration
[May 14, 2007]

I-Open Selects Near-Time to Help Drive Community Development through Web Integration

TMCnet Contributing Editor
The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open) is adopting the Near-Time platform to bring together economic development professionals online and to accelerate economic development efforts in several regions across the United States.

Near-Time Inc. announced today that this initiative integrates several different Web properties into a single collaborative platform for economic development community projects currently in progress in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, while also revamping the I-Open EDPro Weblog for economic developers.

The economic development area of commerce has seen a shift from competition to collaboration and as a result, integrated Web communications are becoming a key element in building civic communities, comprised of individuals representing diverse interests.

By using Near-Time, I-Open is offering a platform to help leaders in business, education, economic development, workforce development, politics and philanthropy launch public Web sites, plan and manage projects and collaborate on content.

The new EDPro Premium is powered by Near-Time and will provide practical guidance to economic development professionals on the latest innovations to build prosperity in cities, rural counties, regions and states. The added functionality of podcasts and Webcasts will also be featured on the site, enabling I-Open to monetize their content, provide different levels of membership and grant access to their library of reports.

"Enabling online collaboration in the civic space is difficult because it's heterogeneous," noted Ed Morrison, Founding Partner of Cleveland-based I-Open, in a Monday statement. "We chose Near-Time because they are a company with a solid understanding of how different collaboration tools integrate.”

“In regional economic development, the Near-Time platform changes the game, delivering simple yet powerful tools that accelerate collaboration across organizational and political boundaries. The platform's flexibility and customization work well in everything from simple collaborations to complex publishing," Morrison added.

As a hosted Web 2.0 based collaboration and publishing platform, Near-Time integrates wikis and weblogs. The platform also provides task management and file sharing capabilities. The intuitive interface of the solution is positioned as being ideally suited for cross organizational interaction. Near-Time users are able to quickly customize the look and feel of a space and access controls as well as a roles and permissions model. Contact can be made private, semi-private or published to the Web at large.

The new models of economic development that I-Open is developing and deploying initially are based on Morrison’s concept of open source economic development in which the same principles of open networks and open source software development are applied to economic development.

“We are very excited to work with industry leader I-Open, a company widely respected for its innovations in economic development. Their grass roots initiatives are delivering direct results in improving the economic landscape for entrepreneurial and small business groups,” said Reid Conrad, CEO of Near-Time, in Monday’s statement.

“I-Open’s implementation speaks to Near-Time’s ability to bring communications and publishing together seamlessly across traditional organizational, industrial and geographic boundaries. We are looking forward to working with I-Open to extend their reach with similar initiatives underway in Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.”

Economic development is an essential part of every community, helping to drive growth in commerce and allowing a community to prosper. It is a tricky area, however, as dynamics can change and variables can be hard to predict, leaving those with the task of driving such development grasping for answers as to why efforts are floundering.

I-Open has done well to recognize the importance that Web integration and communication plays in economic development and has selected a strong partner in which to drive its initiatives. The greatest benefactor in this case will be the communities that prosper as a result of the combined efforts.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.

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