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Virtual shopping complex takes off for Mansfield

A virtual shopping complex, built and populated by the Mansfield Chad newspaper, is going from strength to strength.

The weekly Nottinghamshire title has worked on the project since the end of April in partnership with the Mansfield Area Development Agency – known as Mansfield 2010.

Any shops or service businesses within the Mansfield, Mansfield Woodhouse, Pleasley and Warsop areas can have a simple one-page website with a banner, text and a few pictures for free. The costs are being met by Mansfield District Council, which is a leading player in Mansfield 2010.

The site takes the visitor through different floors on a shopping centre to visit the shops and businesses and is easy, and fun, to navigate.

The Chad’s newly-appointed New Media Manager, Stuart Cooke, said it was a no-risk venture for small businesses: “If a shop didn’t get many visitors, it wouldn’t matter to them as the service is all free at the moment.”

But the Chad and its partners are convinced the site will be a hit, and after April 2001 the businesses with units in the complex will be asked to pay an annual fee to extend their leases.

The Chad’s team has been responsible for getting businesses into the complex, using its contacts, and is now just a few shops away from the target of 400.

As shops have come on board, the Chad has been able to offer them e-mail management, domain name registration, enhanced website development or e-commerce facilities, which have provided a useful spin-off benefit for the newspaper.

Mr Cooke said: “Our next step is to get more local information into the site, such as cinema listings, late night chemists and contact details for the local police.

“That should all be done by the end of this month.”

So far, the site has been promoted via North Notts Newspapers, stickers, posters and a leaflet drop. After this month, the work will start to promote Meden Valley outside the newspapers.

The Chad’s own website,, has been running since May 1998, and is the second most visited newspaper website in the Johnston Press Group.

A divisional team of six work in New Media at the Mansfield paper, and they also look after websites for other local papers in the group including the Worksop Guardian, the Hucknall Times and the Derbyshire Times.

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