Project Innovation tour stops at North Naples software company

Networking software company Neighborhood America has always worked quietly in the background of the nation’s tech industry, helping an adidas mobile advertising campaign on its feet one year and forming an easy-to-access government spending database another.

But this week was the North Naples-based company’s turn to come out into the spotlight. Locally, at least.

More than 60 business and community leaders Thursday toured the Neighborhood America headquarters off Vanderbilt Beach Road.

The group received an inside look at the rows of computer monitors and minds that have built Neighborhood America and the online software that simplifies the flow of ideas and information among the government, corporate and private sectors.

“We do Facebook for businesses,” said Neighborhood America Executive Vice President David Bankston, who compared the company’s services to the popular social networking site.

Thursday’s tour was the sixth this year to be organized by Project Innovation, a project led by the Economic Development Council of Collier County and geared at building a stronger local economy with better jobs.

Neighborhood America, which employs 84 at its North Naples headquarters, is an emblem of the type of company Collier County needs to do this, said EDC Chairman William O’Neil.

Though privately held Neighborhood America declined to disclose its annual revenue, its clientele includes corporate heavy hitters software behemoth Microsoft Corp., which used its REVEAL software to launch the networking Web site Public Sector Idea Bank.

When New York City began accepting designs for the new World Trade Center building after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, two workers were able to manage over 25,000 submissions using Neighborhood America software.

Reality show “America’s Next Top Model” started gaining popularity after its 2003 premiere and aspiring supermodels posted audition videos on The CW Television Network Web site.

Even the EDC uses the Neighborhood America mobile network software to text severe weather alerts to Southwest Floridians’ cell phones.

But most small business owners attending were interested in what Neighborhood America could do with a few thousand dollars.

Bankston offered a tool that allowed customers to submit and vote on their own ideas about improving a business. The tool then organized the best ideas and brought them to the top of the page, creating the “new suggestion box,” Bankston said.

“I think this is really cool,” said Catherine Fay, vice president of local air charter service company Naples Air Inc.

Fay, who has run Naples Air Inc. out of Naples for seven years, grabbed one of the company’s promotional folders and said the company’s products were an opportunity to “expand horizons.”

“I want to explore this,” she said.

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