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AI for Small Businesses: Insights and Policy Implications from 3C Roundtable

In recent years, the adoption of digital tools among small businesses has surged, with a notable increase in the integration of AI-powered tools. According to new 3C research, 64% of small businesses are already using AI for their business or have imminent plans to do so. The top reasons these businesses use or plan to use AI include saving time and money and identifying growth opportunities. Remarkably, among the SMB leaders already using AI tools, 82% say they’ve seen positive outcomes because of AI and 81% say AI will be critical to their success during the next two years. 

However, as the adoption of AI grows, small business leaders are becoming more concerned about potential regulations that could hinder its implementation and the numerous benefits it brings. In light of these trends, we hosted a roundtable discussion on AI for small businesses. This event served as a comprehensive ‘tech policy guide’ amid the rapidly evolving AI policy landscape for the attending small business leaders. 

With today’s uncertain AI policy environment and the lack of a comprehensive national regulatory framework, 3C invited experts to highlight the benefits of AI tool adoption for small businesses, address common questions and concerns about AI governance, and provide insights into the legislative efforts in Washington, D.C. 

The webinar featured a keynote address, research presentation, panel discussion, and Q&A session, covering a range of AI-related topics and their impact on small businesses. Congressman Nick LaLota (NY-01), who delivered the keynote address, shared how Congress is striving to better regulate AI development and use. He stressed the importance of small businesses adopting AI tools, noting, “Integrating AI into business strategies becomes not only a strategic advantage but a necessity for small businesses striving to thrive in an increasingly competitive and digital landscape.” 

Echoing this sentiment, Bailey DeVries from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Karen Kerrigan from the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) also stressed the importance of AI, highlighting its role in saving time, reducing costs, improving profit margins, and overall benefiting small businesses by enabling them to unlock their potential more easily. They noted AI’s ability to allow business owners and their employees to focus on higher-value tasks.

While recognizing the benefits of AI technology, the roundtable also placed a spotlight on the need for supportive legislation and policies to ensure AI effectively benefits small businesses without hindering growth and innovation. Lilly Gillespie, Senior Research Analyst at RXN, highlighted the challenges posed by a fragmented patchwork of state-level AI policies, which could be burdensome for small businesses operating across multiple states. This stresses the need for comprehensive federal AI legislation. Jan Antonaros, a Senior Manager on the Government Affairs and Public Policy team at Google, reassured attendees that lawmakers are aware of these risks and are working to align the private and public sectors to minimize risks and maximize AI opportunities. As an organization committed to advocating for digitally empowered small businesses, 3C will continue to monitor legislative developments, ensuring policymakers consider small businesses during the policymaking process. We look forward to hosting similar discussions in the near future. In the meantime, to stay up-to-date with our work and learn more, please subscribe to our public policy newsletter, which we will send out regularly so you can learn more about the tech policy issues potentially impacting your business.

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