By Saxby Chambliss and Kent Conrad
As the coronavirus rages across all regions of the United States, small businesses are continuing to bear an outsized economic brunt of this crisis. Scores of small businesses are shuttering their doors at a devastating clip — per one recent study, COVID caused roughly 800 closures each day between April and September of 2020 — and the sector at large is experiencing a deeply concerning contraction in confidence. A recent National Federation of Independent Business survey found that U.S. small business optimism fell “below the historical 47-year average of 98 points for the first time since May and [missed] forecasts by economists.”
Given such a grim outlook for a sector that makes this country and its rural regions run — small businesses account for nearly half of all private-sector jobs in America — it behooves policymakers to set its survival as a top priority both amid and after this pandemic. One key tool we strongly encourage lawmakers to home in on and protect: domestic tech innovation, which promptly stepped up to serve as an economic life raft for the small-business sector during the deepest and most daunting depths of this recession. One staggering statistic that underscores the extent to which small business owners are depending on digital tools during the pandemic: Roughly two months into the pandemic, nearly one-third of owners said they would have been forced to close “all or part of their businesses” without digital technology.