Escape Locally Website Promotes Local Tourism, Services, Business

Booking an all-inclusive weekend getaway complete with hiking, wine tasting, luxury cabins and family fun is easier (and closer) than you think thanks to a new local tourism website created by a Carbondale man.

Escape Locally, an online web portal created by Carbondale entrepreneur Jim Zimmerman, promotes and packages local tourism making it simple for users to book a weekend getaway and helping small, local businesses get the online spotlight they need - but might not have the resources for.

As a Broadband Innovation Fund Awardee, Escape Locally has recently announced an expansion. The website will be offered throughout Illinois (not just Southern Illinois) and will serve as an online storefront for small businesses in Champaign, Springfield, Peoria and Bloomington-Normal. Known as “Escape Locally 2.0,” the site will allow business owners to set up their own information and create a customizable online storefront.

“We’re really excited expand to other parts of the state and to replicate the success that we had in Southern Illinois,” said Zimmerman. “This couldn’t have been done without the Broadband Innovation Fund.”

Escape Locally is also getting reinvigorated in Southern Illinois. A recent partnership with the ConnectSI Foundation, a local economic development group, will allow the website to expand its reach in Southern Illinois.

“This is a great partnership,” Zimmerman said. “The site will be rebranded as MarketSpace and even more features will be added. Additionally, ConnectSI will take over all operations for the site, allowing economic development experts to really do what they know best.”

Zimmerman said the partnership was already in effect and new businesses were being added right in time for a busy tourism season in Southern Illinois.

“The opportunity presented by the MarketSpace platform is a missing link in southern Illinois,” said Kathy Lively, Executive Director of the ConnectSI Foundation.  “People speak frequently about the lack of a unified voice or way to showcase our unique identity.  When hundreds of southern Illinois’ businesses are in the same market space, it will bring us the opportunity to showcase our beauty, our crafts, and the ingenuity of the residents in the region we love and call home.”

Tags: broadband innovation fund, ConnectSI, e-commerce, economic development, escape locally, Jim Zimmerman, Kathy Lively, MarketSpace, Small Business, website

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