Opinion: Washington’s small businesses depend on internet growth
Despite the recent receding of covid cases, economic challenges remain for businesses of all sizes. This is particularly true for our state’s small businesses, including mine in West Seattle which, having navigated the pandemic, must now manage supply-chain disruptions and rising inflation.
Personally, I have been using the internet for years to connect with vendors, stay in touch with my customers and be able to reach an incredibly wide audience. And it kept my store in business during the shut down. The internet has helped me and my business be successful, and I am so thrilled to see so many others thriving as well.
At a statewide level, internet-related jobs provided $81.1 billion to Washington state’s GDP in 2020. In a 2020 study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Washington’s internet-related jobs had an astonishing 254 percent growth rate between 2012 and 2020, rising from just 65,000 jobs in 2012 to nearly 230,000 jobs in 2020.
I want to stress that not all of this growth is attributable only to Washington’s big tech companies. More U.S. internet jobs are created by small firms and the self-employed (38 percent) than by large firms (34 percent) or by mid-sized companies (28 percent). Big firms get the attention, but small firms are the backbone of our economy.
Reaching out to people online was one of the very few ways that businesses were able to function during the pandemic. Operating online kept many businesses afloat, and with true innovative spirit companies adapted to this new way of functioning and invested in online tools to find, reach, and sell to customers.
Washington’s entrepreneurs and small business owners depend on the ability to do business online. Making it harder or more expensive, especially given the current economic challenges means that some of them won’t survive. As Congress considers legislation that looks to protect consumer privacy, it’s critical that they also listen to the many, many businesses that will be affected. That’s why I recently joined the new small business coalition, Internet for Growth.
Our goal is to help educate policymakers on how businesses of every size use hundreds of internet-related services — payment systems, websites, e-mails, social media, and yes, online advertising — to grow their business and create jobs.
Every one of Washington’s 10 Congressional districts has internet-related jobs. In six of those districts there are at least 10,000 such jobs, and in two districts, these jobs employ at least nine percent of the district’s population. It’s important to our state’s economy — and to the families and communities that depend on these jobs — that we carefully consider the ramifications of slowing this remarkable growth.
Shandon is the owner of Alair in West Seattle. She is an avid reader and ferocious dog lover. She opened Alair because nothing felt as good as finding the completely perfect and quirky gift for someone, and she thinks that handwritten letters and cards are the only way to go. She believes fiercely in community over competition and building up those around you.