Put a hand out. Extend it to help someone else make the climb. That's the caring philosophy that brought Scott and Jennifer Gingrich to develop their quarterly Website Giveaway.

The couple, owners of Piggybank Technology and a couple of other web-based businesses, got tired of listening to the doom and gloom that blasts into our homes and vehicles through news media. They decided to combat it with positive action. Every quarter, they are selecting one winner to receive a Piggybank website.

Relative newcomers to Barrie after driving through it for years, the Gingrich family is a solid unit and young Gingrich's pay close attention and contribution to the family business. In fact, it was the youngest, Tyler, who gave the business its name. Driving through Thornbury with his parents, he watched drivers pull up to a self serve car wash, deposit their money and wash their vehicles. "It's like a piggybank," he squealed. And Piggybank Technology was born.

As Scott says, "that car wash is somebody's piggybank. Every business is somebody's piggybank. People put money into your business, if you let them do it."

Scott and Jennifer help businesses do just that. They design websites and web marketing projects. They consider whether a business wants to sell online, or develop a database, or take email inquiries, or do all of those things. They build their sites around their customers' needs.

[They also own www.ladyben.com... a site for classic, vintage wooden boats and www.crmcoach.com which is a customer relationship management site that helps to automate sales and marketing projects.

Scott recalls the moment when their Website Giveaway was born. It was last November when they were walking with the kids home from school. News media were 'awfulizing' about everything, confusing the Canadian economy with the US economy. "From our neck of the woods, life looks pretty good. My clients were still doing business and being successful. We were still successful. We decided there's good news happening too and there's a lot of opportunity in change," says Scott.

In an effort to leverage beliefs and doom and gloom, they decided to pay it forward and give away one website every quarter to a new business. Entrepreneurs are brave people, brave enough to buck the doom and gloom and they ignore the statistics and make a go of it. They first considered a percentage reduction in the cost of a site but abandoned that for a totally free site along with marketing mentorship to help that new business succeed.

Their first giveaway attracted 100 applicants. Using criteria which included no or poor website, financial need, their ability to work with the Gingrich team, the potential impact... Scott and Jennifer narrowed down their applicants to three and then involved virtual assistant Jean Oostrom in the final decision.

Photographer Chantal Sirois was the lucky winner. A current member of the provincial government's Self Employment Assistance program, Chantal has been steadily learning business techniques all year and this website gift is the icing on the cake. Living Edge Photographer is about to get a dynamic site.

Scott says the site will have a blog component, a picture gallery, marketing message, be fully optimized, around 20 pages in size..

Scott and Jennifer hope their project will stimulate other business owners to explore how they could help someone else by giving away a service.

Thanks, Scott. Thanks, Jennifer. And congratulations, Chantal!
I recently gave a talk to members of Barrie's Business Women's Network. It was about Celebrating "no" and essentially said that it is in our 'brick wall' times that we become the most creative.

When we hit the wall, when a situation or a person screams 'no' at us, it often results in something bigger and better in the long run.

Well, it was a 'no' to entrance in a Thanksgiving Studio Tour that brought a few Barrie artists together. Well, if we can't get in to that tour, maybe we should offer one of our own, one that's focussed only in Barrie rather than the huge outlying areas, and a tour that features a full range of media in a spring tour rather than a fall tour.

Bingo!!!

Turns out a lot of artists were interested in being included in this tour and the two or three artists found themselves with a full blown art tour on their hands.

Thus, Barrie's first ever Spring Art Tour, 2009, promises to be your passport to originality. While you can browse right now on the website (www.barriespringarttour.ca) you can also download a map to each location and develop your own route for Saturday and Sunday, this weekend.

The Barrie Spring Art Tour gets its official launch at Artistic Frameworks, 143 Commerce Park Dr at Veterans, Friday evening at 6 pm when dignitaries cut the ribbon and a sampling of each artist's work is on display until 9:30. It's a great opportunity to drop by and zero in on art that really speaks to you!

Organizer Bonnie Ryerson, wire sculptor, says that as soon as the group decided to go ahead, all kinds of people offered to help. The City of Barrie's Cultural Department expressed real enthusiasm and offered assistance; Ted Fullerton offered Georgian's Campus Gallery, the Barrie Art Club offered its gallery space, Ridge West offered its gallery space, and individual studios all over Barrie were enthusiastically offering their art and their space.

How wonderful to be able to actually talk to an artist, see where and how they work, and celebrate all that is so wonderful about the artistic side of this community.

The organizers were careful to include sculpture, wood, mosaic art, metal and wire as well as traditional painting media. This is a terrific way to celebrate a Saturday or Sunday... or both! Friday night official opening; Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm.

What a great response to 'no!'

Thanks, artists all, for making this happen.

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