By: Lynne King Smith

As members of Congress, including Congresswoman Debbie Lesko, continue to discuss technology issues, I hope they keep in mind the stories of the small business community, who have benefited tremendously this past year from the current internet landscape and menu of digital products at our disposal.

Our community at Thrive Coworking for Women has long embraced the value of digital technologies, which have allowed small ventures to get off the ground with low operating costs and otherwise supported growth within the Phoenix small business community. But when the pandemic hit, a digital transformation was essential.

Starting in March of last year, we supported our community in adapting as quickly as possible, leveraging internet-enabled systems which allowed businesses to keep the lights on and employees on the payroll. We even launched a robust digital platform ourselves, aimed at supporting local governments in revitalizing businesses.

This was a perspective missing during a hearing Congresswoman Lesko participated in this past March, which I hope changes in future discussions. I wholly understand the importance of addressing misinformation online. But as lawmakers look to address these issues, they should also remember that today’s internet landscape has empowered Arizona small businesses to survive the pandemic—including countless members of the Thrive community. Treating online tools as partners, not foes, is essential to an equitable recovery.