Crow Convenes Panel on Closing the Digital Divide Facing Small Businesses
Last week, Rep. Jason Crow (CO-06), Chairman of the Small Business Subcommittee on Innovation and Workforce Development, convened a panel of small business owners and technology business leaders to discuss how the Committee can help small businesses harness digital technology to grow their business, attract new customers, and create new jobs.
“In just the last few decades, digital platforms have transformed the way Americans do business—from bringing more products online to increasing connectivity,” said Chairman Crow. “As these tools continue to grow, our Subcommittee will be working diligently to ensure that small businesses have the resources they need to effectively utilize these platforms and compete on a level playing field with their larger competitors.”
The digital economy is expanding at an average rate of 5.6 percent per year, triple the pace of the U.S. gross domestic product. Furthermore, 53 percent of the world’s population are Internet users, making the digital economy an attractive market for many small businesses. Today’s panel spoke on how technology can help small businesses create and maintain a presence online. Among the witnesses was Olivia Omega Wallace, an entrepreneur and marketing consultant based in Chairman Crow’s district in Aurora, Colorado.
“Over the past two decades I've seen the evolution of marketing happen before our eyes on the internet,” said Omega Wallace, an Aurora entrepreneur and marketing consultant. “The many barriers to entry started to diminish as technology increased, allowing individuals with no special advantages take an idea, quickly bring it to market, hire employees and scale with less upfront out-of-pocket costs and less risk. Our clients include a vegan chef and naturopathic doctor husband and wife team who want to bring easy healthy living to both their local and global online communities, and a counselor who offers art therapy to families in trauma. Online marketing tools allow them to reach their specific target audience from Aurora to Australia.”
Acknowledging that small businesses face unique barriers to utilizing online platforms, Chairman Crow discussed the importance of expanding access to reliable broadband, awareness of educational opportunities offered through the Small Business Administration, and enacting laws that take into account the challenges facing early-stage businesses.
“As technology rapidly develops, the digital ecosystem is only going to become more deeply ingrained in business and everyday life,” said Chairman Crow. “America’s small businesses simply cannot afford to be left behind.”
In Colorado, small businesses employ 1.1 million people or a one-half of the private sector workforce. The state is home to over 610,000 small businesses of which 15% are minority-owned. In the Sixth Congressional District, there are over 15,000 small businesses which employ over 132,000 employees.