Business Forward has organized hundreds of briefings across the country on technology and innovation, collecting recommendations from local business leaders on a range of issues, from how to protect IP to helping small businesses use the internet to find new markets. These five issues stand out.
Net neutrality. The best way to ensure an open and vital internet is to prevent network operators from interfering with traffic to favor data from some sites or applications over others. With net neutrality, companies operating at the “edge” of the network are more likely to invest in distance learning, telemedicine, media streaming, and other new, data-intensive businesses.
Broadband access. Broadband access is critical to economic opportunity. In fact, gaining access to broadband correlates with a $2,100 per year boost to household income, and each 1% increase in a state’s broadband penetration increases employment by up to 0.3% per year. More than 19 million Americans living in rural areas lack broadband access. And, pockets of inner-cities are being left behind. Our businesses, schools and libraries need access to broadband wherever they are in order to compete.
Data privacy. The collection and use of data has powered our digital economy and America’s continued leadership in technology. As data collection grows, new policies and standards must promote appropriate uses of data that enable innovative, low-cost services without violating consumer privacy.
Cybersecurity. Too often, small businesses are targeted with viruses, ransomware or scams. Policymakers and law enforcers should make protecting small businesses from hackers, international crooks and identity thieves a priority.
Tools for Small Businesses. Small business owners are using online tools to reach new markets, recruit talent, and lower their operating costs. Many big tech companies are helping. But businesses operating in small towns face additional challenges, and the best way to address them is to build scale through partnerships with neighboring businesses, universities, incubators, and local governments.