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Main Street Connect vs. Patch

PatchVMainStreetConnectMove over, Patch.com. Main Street Connect may be a bit behind Aol’s network of about 800 hyperlocal sites, but plans for expansion are ambitious. By June 1, the group of 10 sites currently concentrated in Connecticut’s Fairfield County is slated to grow to 31 more websites in Westchester County.

According to Main Street Connect CEO, publisher and editor Carll Tucker, the expansion will put their coverage area at 1.2 million. The idea for the series of hyperlocal sites was initially modeled around the idea of making them a franchise. But after the launch of the Daily Greenwich and Daily Norwalk in Connecticut last March, Tucker and his board of directors decided not to go that route. “There was a tremendous appetite in the reading public for the product that we were offering and they are becoming regular readers at a rate much higher than we anticipated,” he told inVocus in a previous interview last September.

By the end of the 2011, he predicts they will have launched a total of 50 to 60 sites since last year. By 2014, Tucker recently told inVocus, the goal is to have launched 6,000 sites. Meanwhile, Patch.com has launched 27 sites since January and currently has a presence in 19 states. According to Bloomberg, Arianna Huffington, who now oversees the Patch sites for Aol, plans to increase content at the sites and may hire up to one full-time journalist for each site. Currently, each site is manned by one full-time editor and a string of freelancers.

At Main Street Connect, Tucker expects there to be about 85 to 90 full-time employees by June 1, with about half devoted to editorial and the other half to sales and marketing. Although Tucker noted Main Street Connect sites currently compete with Patch’s sites in Fairfield County, he said the models are different. “We believe in being profitable before we propagate. And they have propagated sites before being profitable,” he said. “Nobody under the age of 40 reads news on paper anymore, so if we’re going to have community news it’s going to be digital. And the winner in this race is the person who finds the model that best serves its community and makes money.”

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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