The village may follow the lead of two local organizations and create a presence for Canal Winchester on social networking sites such as Facebook.

The village may follow the lead of two local organizations and create a presence for Canal Winchester on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Members of village council's technology committee discussed doing so during a meeting April 20.

Council members said they think adding a village presence to some social networking sites would draw more people, especially younger people, to village events and would be a way to better inform residents of government happenings.

Both Main Street Canal Winchester and the Canal Winchester Area Chamber of Commerce recently set up Facebook pages.

John Garrett, executive director of Main Street Canal Winchester, said he looks forward to seeing how the added online presence affects turnout for future Main Street events, such as Founders Day on May 2 and the Farmers Market starting in June.

"That's the biggest thing: promoting your cause," he added. "And our cause is revitalizing downtown."

Kim Rankin, president of the Canal Winchester Area Chamber of Commerce, said she set up a Facebook page for the chamber about three weeks ago and it already has created a lot of discussion among members who normally would not have met otherwise.

"It's really stirring a lot of conversation," she said.

Councilman Bruce Jarvis said he initially was unconvinced by social networking sites, but after attending a Main Street national convention in Chicago last month, he changed his mind.

"The thing that really impressed me was the statistics they were providing and trends that are taking place," he said.

He said about 50 percent of people who search topics on the Internet use social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and MySpace.

"You don't want to be the last one to do this, because for some people, this is the first place they look," Jarvis said.

Village community affairs director Carrie Hoover said creating a presence online could require a lot of time.

"While it's easy to set up, you need some investment to bring it up," she said. "I think it's also a large time commitment. It seems like a big project to take on."

She said she likely would be responsible for setting up and maintaining any Facebook pages and since she is due to go on maternity leave in May, establishing a social networking site for the village may have to wait until she returns to work in August.

Councilman Victor Paini said he maintains a social networking presence for nonprofit organizations; doing so for the village would require no monetary investment and little time commitment, he said.

Paini said the village's current online presence through its Web site at www.canalwinchesterohio.gov is "relatively static." Using networking sites would give village officials a chance to distribute new information quickly, he said.

Facebook, for example, gives a person or organization Web space to post information. Other people can subscribe to the Web space and receive new information as it's posted, he explained.

"It's a more evolved way of having a blog," Paini said. "It's essentially a free marketing mechanism."

Village development director Chris Strayer said over time, more people will join village social networking pages, which could be used as a sort of regional promotional tool to draw more people to Canal Winchester.