Congress must not overregulate the tech sector and stifle small businesses in the process
In this photo illustration, social media apps are seen on a mobile phone. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
The pandemic has posed many challenges to small businesses that rely on personal interaction with customers. Fortunately, tech and digital tools have helped countless businesses confront these challenges, stay afloat and thrive during this unprecedented time. Congress must not pass regulations that constrain tech innovation and stifle small businesses in the process.
I started The Hair Chest, a full-service holistic hair restoration clinic in Central Ohio, after watching my mother struggle with a cancer diagnosis and hair loss that came with treatment. Unfortunately, like so many others, my mother succumbed to her illness. But my business was born, and I’ve been able to help others struggling with hair loss for various reasons.
Throughout my time as a small business owner, and increasingly as the pandemic limited in-person interaction, I have used online advertising to market my services and grow my customer base. When the pandemic hit, these digital tools became increasingly vital.
Without accessible, online advertising and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, I am not sure I would have been able to keep my business going over the last couple of years — and I certainly would not have been able to grow. Thanks, in part, to these tools, I’ve been able to continually communicate with current and potential customers and have experienced enough success to open a new location for the business.
My use of digital tools as a small business owner is just the tip of the iceberg. Ohio’s small businesses are increasingly reliant on the tech sector.
More than 90% of our state’s small businesses increased their use of digital tools during the pandemic, and more than half plan to increase their use as we emerge out of COVID-19.
It’s not just non-tech companies like mine that rely on digital technology and online tools; the tech sector itself is a major driver of Ohio’s 21st-century economy, as more than 390,000 people in Ohio are employed by the technology sector. The median wage for Ohio workers in the tech sector is about 77% higher than the median wage for all other jobs in the state.
If we can continue to build on this progress, it will provide businesses like mine with greater opportunity, and will allow workers across our state to increase their pay to meet the rising cost of living.
So, how do we ensure the tech sector continues to excel and grow, and digital tools evolve and remain readily available to small businesses and others across our city, state and country?
The reality is, there’s an intense global competition currently underway over control of tech leadership. It is more crucial than ever that Congress ensures and increases America’s competitive edge.
For the sake of the communities and small businesses they represent, Congress should be committed to long-term investments in technology and innovation. They must also avoid anti-competitive policies that suppress innovation and threaten the tech sector by breaking apart innovative companies.
If our country succeeds, the possibilities are endless. If we fail, the ricochet effect on small business owners and workers, including in Ohio, will be devastating.
Oma Christina is the founder and CEO of The Hair Chest – Hair Restoration Clinic, a small business in Westerville, Ohio.
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