By Michael Kinney
The Journal Record
Eran Harrill knows a thing or two about teamwork. As a sergeant in the Oklahoma National Guard, he witnessed firsthand the importance of groups coming together for a common goal during his tour of duty in Afghanistan.
While Harrill may not be wearing fatigues and roughing it in the desert, he is still working to bring different groups together. Now he’s just doing it as the chief executive officer of the Oklahoma City Black Chamber of Commerce.
One of Harrill’s missions as CEO is to help the chamber’s members learn to keep pace in this technology-driven era.
“When I took over the Black Chamber, it was something that I immediately saw as a need that needed to happen,” Harrill said. “And so I’ve always been cognizant of that and trying to look for ways that can continue to push that mission out there and accomplish those goals.”
That is why Harrill forged partnerships with Google and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The three groups have come together to create monthly workshops for the Black Chamber of Commerce to host for its members and other small business owners looking to use Google products.
Harrill first saw the value of Google in 2017 after attending a “Grow with Google” event at the Devon Boathouse.
“That’s when I really started seeing some of the deliberate efforts they were trying to do on their portfolio and the suite of products, to be able to help small business owners and entrepreneurs really get a leg up in some of the products that they were creating,” Harrill said.
The workshops cover a variety of topics each month. When the OKC Black Chamber of Commerce met Feb. 15, the subject was “Get Your Business Online.”
For two hours, Harrill went through ways different Google products could help business owners create a bigger and more effective imprint online. That is one of the reasons Joel Pendarvis of JP Accounting & Tax Services has been attending the workshops.
“I come to a workshop like this to get different strategies for optimizing my website, giving myself a better web presence,” Pendarvis said. “Also, I am a member of the Black Chamber and I come here to support one of my fellow Black Chamber members.”
Harrill explained to the small group at the Thunder Launchpad how the web is specifically working for businesses in Oklahoma with the help of Google. In Oklahoma alone, Google helped provide $532 million of economic activity for businesses, website publishers and nonprofits in 2017.
“(Google) gets small business owners being more recognized with the brand and using their suite of products in a way that they couldn’t do, or would cost them a lot of money to be able to try to get the word out that way,” Harrill said.
For the Thunder, being partnered with the Black Chamber of Commerce and Google is a way to continue to give back to the community and also showcase the viability of its Thunder Launchpad, which provides space and resources.
“We wanted to open up this space for nonprofit organizations, for-profit organizations, for educating small businesses, for educating youth, for educating veterans to better their careers,” said Karlis Kezbers, director of business intelligence and strategy for the Oklahoma City Thunder. “Then there is our partnership with Eran. We have hosted many events for the Black Chamber of Commerce, whether it’s at the arena or here at the Launchpad. We want to help support that as much as possible.”
So far in 2019, the Black Chamber of Commerce has hosted two Grow with Google events. Thirty people attended in January and 13 in February.
Harrill sees room for growth, but he knows the key continues to be getting the word out on how Google can work for people.
“We deal with a lot of entrepreneurs, people who are just starting their business. So this gives them an opportunity to improve their business presence on the web for free,” Pendarvis said. “That always helps. It doesn’t cost anything, there are no barriers for entry. It’s something you can do on your own and it also helps your business.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider