It’s been over 20 years since I began Sugaree’s Bakery – baking from scratch in my home kitchen. And it’s truly amazing to think back on the past two decades and consider how far we’ve come and how much has changed thanks to new technology that allows us to reach a world of new customers.

Our bakery is now in the heart of downtown New Albany, Mississippi, but that doesn’t stop us from shipping our southern treats across the country. In this fast-paced, digitally-driven world we live in, anything is possible. And online commerce allows us to invest in our community, while sharing our creations with customers from coast to coast. With the current COVID-19 crisis and the country and entire globe in the midst of the widespread pandemic, now more than ever, businesses and individuals are relying on technology to keep us connected personally and in business.

It’s possible thanks to America’s technology leaders, who have created an online ecosystem that is opening doors for consumers, small businesses and non-profits. That open digital market promotes new economic opportunities and creates jobs. For example, in 2018, Google helped create $335 billion in U.S. economic activity. They hired over 10,000 people and invested $9 billion in U.S. data centers and offices.

The company’s impact is being felt in Mississippi, too. In 2018 alone, Google helped generate $168 million in economic activity for Mississippi. Additionally, 3,100 Mississippi businesses, website publishers and non-profits benefited from using some of Google’s services such as advertising solutions, Google Ads and AdSense.

At Suagree’s, we rely on Google calendar to keep our team and all its moving parts on track. We also use Analytics to track how many visitors we get to the website and figure out which items are getting the most attention.

It’s not just us. Small businesses everywhere are taking advantage of digital tools at their disposal. According to the Connected Commerce Council, 85% of America’s small businesses confirm that digital services help the performance of business operations and more than 40% report customer growth directly attributable to the use of digital tools.

Big tech companies have come under considerable scrutiny lately, and of course, there are some topics worthy of debate. However, there is no denying these companies’ contribution to both our global economy and small business like mine that are often the backbone of their communities. Politically motivated attacks on the free market harm innovation, which is critical to helping business in Mississippi and across the nation succeed. Policymakers should bear that in mind before pursuing government controls that could stifle the fast-paced competition that delivers new value to customers like ours.

MARY JENNIFER RUSSELL is owner of Suagree’s Bakery in New Albany.

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