When Governor Holcomb began opening up Indiana several months ago, Hoosier collectively breathed a sigh of relief, believing we had reached the down slope in our struggle against the pandemic and that things would return to normal—providing a critical lifeline to businesses who struggled during the quarantine.
Yet, sometimes optimism gives way to bleak reality. It is clear both in Indiana and across the country, our fight against COVID-19 is far from over, sending dark clouds of uncertainty over thousands of small businesses across our state once more.
While pausing further relaxation of guidelines designed to halt the spread of COVID-19 represents prudent and thoughtful leadership from Governor Holcomb, our businesses are once again in a pickle—especially if things continue to trend in this direction.
Thankfully, many have been able to piece together novel solutions to stay connected with customers, bolstering their web presence and finding ways to conduct operations remotely, in large part to easy-to-use and affordable (if not free) platforms from America’s technology leaders—firms like Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
In fact, in June, I signed onto a letter to Governor Holcomb with 70 other Hoosier businesses and the Connected Commerce Council urging him and other state leaders to ensure that Indiana employers can continue to access digital tools—that’s how critical this issue is to the businesses that I work with on a regular basis.
Even as our businesses are struggling and cobbling together e-commerce and remote work strategies on-the-fly, the companies who are providing these critical lifelines are facing mounting attacks in Washington and across the country that seem wholly divorced from the reality on the ground.
Moreover—attacks could not come at a worse time for the U.S. domestically. Businesses are struggling and with a quick economic recovery looking more and more uncertain, despite early optimism, the restaurants, shops, and small firms that are the backbone of our communities are going to need every tool in the tool box.
But there is good news: Governor Holcomb and Secretary Schellinger have done tremendous work leading us to a vibrant and open economy, ensuring Hoosier businesses have widespread and convenient access to the tools they need to recover, compete, and remain connected to an increasingly global economy.
If these attacks on the innovative firms opening doors for businesses in the midst of the most pressing struggle our economy has faced in decades succeed, I worry what that will mean moving forward.
Without the tools that help us connect in times of social distancing, U.S. small and medium enterprises could find it more difficult to reach a broader base of consumers, threatening stagnation and decline for small businesses and further consolidating market advantages of larger firms.
But beyond the costs of Indiana businesses and communities if the companies behind these platforms found their capacity to offer these services curtailed or otherwise undermined by the attacks against them, it also makes America a less friendly place for innovation and ingenuity to take place.
Even as we focus on the threat from COVID-19 at home, we must not forget our connection to the broader global economy. As more and more of our lives become digitized—having the companies on the cutting edge of that transformation operating, growing, and innovating here is a strategic and economic asset that we must not forfeit.
And unfortunately, for all of Governor Holcomb’s leadership, others could easily lead this ill-thought out charge—risking the Indiana economy and Hoosier businesses who are just starting to find their balance as we cautiously reopen our economy. Hopefully, cooler heads prevail and realize that the best way to unleash the economic recovery we need is through less government intervention—not more.
America’s leaders should follow our Governor’s lead—support small businesses who depend on America’s tech leaders—don’t undermine the businesses by attacking them. After all, as we say in Indiana—measure twice, cut once. With a pandemic raging across our country, now is not the time to risk cutting our businesses off from the services they need to survive.