William Lawrence: Federal policymakers must protect American innovation and technology for small businesses

There’s enough bad news coming out of Washington. Inflation. High energy prices. Open borders and more. Here in Kentucky, we can’t stomach any more fonts that create unintended and burdensome consequences for the state. That’s why we must stop proposals that hamper the innovation that helps Kentucky small businesses succeed in the 21st century economy.

Since 2015, I’ve run a small business in Maysville, and it was certainly a big financial risk to take on my own. But with hard work and innovation, I scraped together every penny so it could succeed.

William Lawrence

My story is personal, but it’s not unique. During my years in Kentucky’s General Assembly, I’ve had the chance to meet inspiring entrepreneurs from around Bracken, Harrison, Mason and Robertson Counties and across the Commonwealth. They all have one thing in common: the American enterprising spirit to capture success.

These Kentucky entrepreneurs use the digital marketplace to harness technology to connect with their customers, advertise and make sales. The Parc Cafe in Maysville offers its customers a handcrafted atmosphere in its store, but also serves them and stays connected through their website and online platforms. Donna’s Place, a restaurant in Bracken County, relies on their social media pages to feed hungry families in Brooksville, but also reach other families beyond the Brooksville limits. I’m proud of the work of our small businesses and their commitment to building and strengthening the Commonwealth, especially in District 70. These businesses and Kentucky’s economy thrive because of their ability to digitally promote and sell their brand, ideas, and products.

The creativity of Kentucky’s small businesses was on full display during the pandemic.

Restaurants and retailers boosted their online presence to stay in touch with their customers and keep sales going. Social media and digital tools made it possible for these small businesses to keep their doors open. It has become an essential part of business communications and marketing. More than 78 percent of Kentucky’s small businesses increasing their use of digital tools during COVID-19 and 45 percent plan on using more digital tools into the future. These small businesses are the engine of Kentucky’s growth, and they were fueled by the digital marketplace.

Unfortunately, new proposals from Congress to clamp down on the tech sector will take direct aim at Kentucky small businesses. These misguided anti-innovation proposals up for debate in Washington will only make it more difficult for small businesses to survive, decreasing their competitiveness in the marketplace and eliminating access to key services. We must all speak out together to object to these bad ideas.

Small businesses owners need support from policymakers, not new and unnecessary rules that will make it harder for them to succeed and grow. I know exactly what they could do to Kentucky: they may very well drive small businesses out of the market, leaving workers and consumers with nowhere to turn. With all of the other problems on Main Street right now, I can’t imagine anything worse from out-of-touch Washington.

As a member of the House Small Business and Information Technology Committee, I continue doing everything I can to support small businesses hustling to serve their customers. Nearly 100,000 Kentuckians work in our Commonwealth’s tech industry, and the number of tech-based jobs will only grow in the future. My work on House Resolution 75 allowed me to share with Kentucky leaders the importance of Kentucky’s technology companies as they create jobs, strengthen the economy and support local businesses with their services. Today, tech contributes about $8 billion to our economy every year. And I’m confident that number will only keep growing.

I’m proud to support our small business Kentuckians and fight for them in Frankfort, and it’s time for our federal policymakers to step up and defend American innovation and technology.

William Lawrence, of Maysville, represents House District 70 in the Kentucky General Assembly and serves on the economic development and workforce development as well as the small business and information technology committees.

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