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KY business, technology leaders discuss importance of ‘digital safety net’ amid COVID-19 and beyond

Small business advocacy group Connected Commerce Council (3C) hosted a virtual forum this week with Kentucky business and tech leaders and State Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer and about the importance of digital tools and platforms for small businesses during COVID-19.

The virtual event, “Tech Forward Webcast: How Technology is Fueling Kentucky’s Recovery and Growing the Economy,” was hosted by 3C president Jake Ward.

“Kentucky’s technology sector is growing like never before, and that’s great news for the Bluegrass State’s overall economy,” said State Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer. “Amid the significant challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our resilient small businesses are relying on the ‘digital safety net’ now more than ever. Moving forward, innovation and connectivity will continue to fuel the success of both new and existing companies in communities all across the Commonwealth.”

Following Sen. Thayer’s keynote comments, Ward was joined by Josh Crawford, executive director of the Pegasus Institute; Colby Hall, executive director of Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR); and Shelby Williams Somervell, vice president of government affairs and communications for Greater Louisville Inc. for a panel discussion on how Kentucky policymakers are working to foster an environment for innovation to thrive.

“As lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are considering potential legislation to break up successful American technology companies, they should tread carefully,” said Pegasus Institute executive director Josh Crawford. “Federal government overreach aimed at big corporations could have profound unintended consequences for small businesses in places like Kentucky, who are dependent upon technology now more than ever.”

Ward was joined by a second panel of guests including Jenna Ahern, founder/CEO of Guardian Owl Digital of Louisville; Payton May, chief operations officer for Bit Source in Pikeville; and Joshua Ravenscraft, co-owner of New Frontier Outfitters in Morehead for a dialogue about how small businesses — in both urban and rural communities — are achieving success through digital innovation.

“Amid the unprecedented disruptions of the past year and a half, digital tools and platforms have played a vital role in helping Kentucky small businesses survive and thrive,” said Guardian Owl Digital CEO Jenna Ahern. “In every corner of the Commonwealth, technology has empowered companies of all types to connect with customers, overcome obstacles, and continue serving their communities.”

A recent 3C report underscored the dramatic difference technology utilization has made for small businesses during the pandemic. Digitally Driven: 2021 showed that digitally advanced companies have fared 20 times better in acquiring new customers and 50 percent better in overall revenue, compared to more digitally uncertain businesses amid COVID-19.

Connected Commerce Council