Op-ed: West Virginia must embrace entrepreneurship, innovation

In the last few years, the state of West Virginia has made tremendous strides in improving our workforce, reforming our education system, and making life better for every West Virginian. Chief among these successes is our commitment to creating a business environment that fosters innovation and breeds success. However, not everyone wishes to create a system of free enterprise and innovation. In its place, they push big government, and for West Virginia, that is a losing approach.

Take for example the technology industry. Here in West Virginia, tech accounts for an estimated $2.5 billion economic impact. The industry supports more than 30,000 employees, with over 2,367 tech business establishments. And the reach is expected to grow significantly. More than 50% of West Virginia small businesses claim they plan to use more digital tools in the post COVID-19 world.

But in Washington, big government pushers are calling to break up the same technology companies that West Virginia businesses rely on. Small mom and pop shops use social media for their advertising. Large corporations recruit talented individuals to our state through the power of social apps. Proposed anti-innovation legislation aims to limit the size of many corporations, does nothing to help consumers or inspire more competition. This anti-competition legislation also picks arbitrary limits and regulations for a select group of companies, forcing them to limit their size, scope and abilities.

Why, when this vital domestic industry is thriving and growing — and helping our small businesses — would we want to hamper it?

The benefits of innovation in technology do not stop at the border of West Virginia. America leading, especially in tech policy, means America drives the change and leads the world. Foreign adversaries like China or Russia controlling the internet means censorship or propaganda, which threatens the very principles Americans hold so dearly.

Anti-innovation proposals coming out of Congress are not just bad for West Virginians, they are bad for America. And they give the government even more control over our private sector. We should be unleashing innovation and supporting the success of our domestic businesses, not passing legislation that could have unintended consequences setting us behind China and other major competitors. Our technology market right now is ripe with innovation. The massive expansion of this sector has led to a more prosperous lifestyle for countless West Virginians. Placing arbitrary limits on these companies will hurt business owners and consumers, and stifle innovation.

We must embrace the next great innovations in our technology sector. From the small hardware stores in our cities, to the largest farms in West Virginia, tech has improved our citizens’ lives. West Virginia’s leaders would be smart to reject calls to break up these companies or stifle their innovative spirits.


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