Google will bring its website expertise to the Washington for the first time next week with free workshops intended to set local businesses up with a free website, Web hosting and online marketing help.

Mayor Vincent Gray and Marie Johns, deputy administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, are expected to speak at the D.C. event.

Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray, said the effort was part of an overall strategy to strengthen the city's economy and increase job opportunities at local businesses. Several District agencies have partnered with Google to host the event, and the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development has been recruiting participants.

If you go
» "Get Your Business Online" workshops start at 8 a.m. at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D St. NW, Washington
Feb. 20
» Workshops at 9 to 11:30 a.m. (in Spanish) and 12:30 to 3 p.m. (in English) at the State Theatre, 220 N. Washington St., Falls Church

Google's director of small-business engagement, Scott Levitan, said 58 percent of U.S. small businesses do not have a website, even though most customers search for products and services online.

"We want to dispel the myth that you require technical abilities [to make a website]," Levitan told The Washington Examiner. "To be honest, if you can set up and run your personal email account, you really have the skills to build your business's Web presence."

Google's "Get Your Business Online" instructors have held workshops around the country, and the tech giant says it has already helped more than 100,000 businesses.

Hair color salon owner Allan Van Johnson participated in Google workshops in Baltimore last year. He said he had thought he might need to hire specialists to create a website.

"I had a domain name, but I wasn't doing anything with it," Van Johnson said.

But then he attended the event and used Google's templates.

"You're online within, like, two hours," he said.