As our state continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that our economy emerges stronger and more resilient than ever before. The pandemic has shown us loud and clear that nothing is more important to this progress than embracing technology and innovation.
Without an environment that fosters competition within the tech sector and an open and accessible internet, we will not be able to step into and capitalize on the realities of a 21st-century economy.
This is especially true in Ohio as traditional manufacturing and energy production sectors and jobs have shifted.
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In Ohio, particularly in Columbus, we’ve seen firsthand the benefits of technology and innovation.
As lawmakers in Washington consider how to respond to the continuing evolution and growth of the tech sector and intensifying competition in the internet, it is critical that we continue to foster the innovation that has improved lives and supported our economy.
We cannot afford to go backward.
Unfortunately, some members of Congress currently support anti-competitive legislation that could handcuff tech innovation.
For example, the so-called American Choice and Innovation Online Act would create separate rules for online marketplaces than those that govern brick and mortar businesses, creating a highly inequitable landscape for small businesses; and the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act of 2021 would have a chilling effect on the technology mergers and acquisitions space, primarily disenfranchising innovative startups and disincentivizing prospective innovation.
The unintended consequences of such legislation would be dire.
By hamstringing job creators, the bills being considered could reduce job opportunities, lead to the elimination of services, and increase consumer costs.
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The legislation could also derail the economic recovery of small businesses, who have used technological innovation to propel business through platforms to reach new customers and to bridge the gap between urban and rural communities.
Furthermore, as a leader in global innovation, the U.S. has used technology to protect its citizens and defend our allies; and the legislation could hamper critical innovations essential to advancing our nation’s defense and cyber security strategy.
We’re already at a point where technology powers much of our state’s economic activity and employment.
In fact, Ohio’s technology sector has an estimated impact of nearly $35 billion on our state’s economy and employs more than 390,000 people, representing about 7% of our state’s total workforce.
When looking at the impact of an economic sector on workers and families, it’s also important to drill down on wages. In the technology sector, workers in Ohio earn an approximately 77% higher median wage than all other occupations in the state.
Furthermore, small businesses, the backbone of our economy, are setting an example of how technology can help overcome challenges of the pandemic and carry the lessons learned into a post-COVID world.
Over 90 percent of Ohio small businesses increased the use of digital tools during the pandemic, and more than half plan to use more digital tools post-COVID-19.
We must build on this success, not stymie its progress.
Edward Starks is the CEO of Starks Consulting Group (SCG) in Columbus.