DES MOINES, IOWA (October 20, 2020) – State Auditor Rob Sand joined technology leaders and small business owners in a virtual webinar this week on the importance of digital integration to Iowa’s economic revival during COVID-19. The “Tech Forward Webcast: How Technology Is Fueling The Iowa Recovery & Growing The Iowa Economy” was hosted by Jake Ward, president of the Connected Commerce Council, a non-profit membership organization representing digitally empowered small businesses.
State Auditor Sand discussed the importance of small businesses’ success to communities across the state. “When you look at a town, the things that really stick out are – what’s the local restaurant like, what’s the local business that people are really proud of, what’s the local bar that everybody likes to go to… it’s the small businesses that really weave our social fabric and give us character.” He discussed several initiatives to help struggling businesses during the pandemic, and the lessons he’s learned from talking to entrepreneurs who have pivoted to a more digital presence the past few months. “There will be things that we take away from this – practices, procedures, that we are going to keep doing, that we’ll put into our toolkit and won’t take out, because we discover that they’re useful even after a lot of the dust has settled.”
Marc Pichik, the owner of Smart Retract, offered advice to fellow small business owners on overcoming the challenges of COVID-19. “We use Google Ads and other electronic tools and technologies extensively to help us get in front of customers, which has been a great benefit for us for many years, but in a situation like this it’s pretty much indispensable… without these technologies, it would be almost impossible.” Marc also advised businesses of all sizes to “think about your basic business model and how you’ve done it in the past, but now incorporating and pivoting using new tools and technologies.”
Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives for the Greater Des Moines Partnership Mike Colwell offered his perspective on how the digital economy of today is different than traditional economies we know. “There are a lot more players than the three or four big ones, and we’re not restricted where we have to be there. Some people feel that Amazon hits that border, maybe they do or they don’t, but to tear it all down is not going to solve anything.” He offered examples of partnerships between tech companies of all sizes and Iowa-based businesses, as well as underscoring the role of digital tools in promoting growth.
Brian Waller, President of the Technology Association of Iowa, encouraged businesses to make connections with tech partners now more than ever. “From a service provider side, they are really begging to get with restaurants and small business owners to help create technology solutions… if you’re a small business owner and you’ve adopted this as the new reality, you’ve just got to do some outreach…it takes a village.”
To view a recording of the webinar, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhoI48Ohv0Y&feature=youtu.be