A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Commentary: Lawmakers must embrace benefits digital marketplace provides small businesses

By Leigh Ann Lambert and Shellie Hallock
Special to NKyTribune

No one has time for basic cheese and bad wine. That’s why we’re proud to open The Board Room, a new venue in Morehead featuring custom Charcuterie Boards, delicious drinks and a wonderful space to enjoy.

Even before our Grand Opening, our store is already connecting with customers and friends online. That’s because we recognized early that the digital marketplace is the best place to grow our business. We use Facebook to hear from our customers, to share the latest updates about our stores and even to sell our products. We see a bright future for The Board Room and other businesses like it because of the innovation and opportunity online.

Unfortunately, some Washington policymakers don’t see it the same way. They are pushing anti-innovation policies that would devastate businesses such as ours before we could even get on our feet. By limiting our ability to reach customers online, these proposals would stifle growth, stop job creation and only hurt those it set out to protect.

Hampering social media resources for a small business would do more than just hurt the local economy. It also would also damage our culture and our community. For a new shop like ours, social media will help us bring attention and new customers to a community always looking for the next opportunity.

Our story is not unique. So many small businesses across Kentucky engage with their customers every single day online. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are over 350,000 small businesses in our commonwealth, employing more than 700,000 people. That is a significant number of people who rely on the digital world for a paycheck.

For us, reaching our customers online isn’t new. Even before we decided to open The Board Room, Shellie has been creating platters and other treats for special occasions. Thanks to social media, she was able to expand her creative interests and connect with a much larger audience than before. Social media has allowed our business to surpass even our wildest expectations.

But our presence online does more than drive our bottom line: it allows us to build community and bring people together. Social media allows our unique brand to connect with hundreds of thousands of people outside our scope of physical distance. Thanks to platforms such as Facebook, our team is able to quickly and efficiently communicate with those interested in our product and business. We give people the answers they need as soon as they come to mind, all thanks to innovation throughout the years that has led to today’s modern internet.

Any lingering doubts we may have had about the future of the digital marketplace disappeared in the last two years. Countless entrepreneurs turned to digital sales to keep their businesses alive during the pandemic, even if they had to temporarily close their physical shops.

Creating more red tape or more hoops to jump through when it comes to tech is the wrong move.

The digital world presents us with a technological benefit that puts us on par with any company anywhere in the world. Elected officials should embrace the growing tech marketplace and understand the benefits it provides to small business owners like us. Instead of silencing small business owners and the platforms they use to connect and share with others, we should instead be practicing new and innovative ways to make the experience better for everyone who uses them.

Leigh Ann Lambert and Shellie Hallock own The Board Room located at 111 West Main Street in Morehead.

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