Developing Statewide Utilization Strategies
Connect Arkansas Looks to Drive Economic Impact, Small Business Growth
Connect Arkansas is a private nonprofit dedicated to increasing high-speed Internet implementation and utilization throughout Arkansas. As a project of the Arkansas Capital Corporation Group, Connect Arkansas is now taking significant steps in partnership with SNG to drive broadband utilization amongst its businesses.
As actual Internet utilization (beyond infrastructure and adoption) is critical for business growth and prosperity, Connect Arkansas commissioned SNG to conduct a statewide eSolutions Benchmarking Study amongst small-to-medium sized businesses.
This study will help Connect Arkansas better understand the gaps and barriers to utilization as well as the current financial impacts of broadband and its applications, including:
- In Arkansas, total job impact from broadband represents 29.4% of all new jobs.
- Current level of Internet application utilization accounts for 24.7% of overall revenues and cost savings averaging 6.6%.
Also fascinating and consistent with SNG’s findings across the United States, there is a digital divide in utilization amongst smaller and rural businesses. The smaller a business, the lower the Internet application utilization. The same goes for the more rural an organization is (see accompanying article). This is especially troublesome given the fact that more than 90% of Arkansas’ (and America’s) are small businesses.
Arkansas businesses realize there is more they can and should be doing online. Nearly half (46.4%) say that they are not taking full/better advantage of broadband and its solutions because of a lack of in-house knowledge. Nearly a third (31.4%) are not utilizing the Internet because they don’t fully understand the benefits.
So how do we help small businesses better utilize broadband and its applications to increase revenues, jobs, and the tax base?
Connect Arkansas is currently running a pilot of its Small Business Growth Program with 100 Arkansas businesses which includes coaching, online tools, and most importantly a utilization scorecard. This scorecard compares the current level of Internet use to other organizations of similar size in the same industry. It identifies the top three Internet tools and strategies to drive new revenues and/or cost savings for this particular business.
The recommendations provided to the 100 small businesses in Arkansas averaged a financial impact (revenues and cost savings) of $225,000 per company. If all of these 100 businesses undertake these recommendations, the overall impacts would be $22.5 million aggregate positive financial impacts to the businesses. This also equates to a potential job growth of 100 direct and 250 total jobs.
Moving forward Arkansas will have the ability to drive their economy through the better utilization of broadband among all businesses who participated in the benchmarking study, carrying with it a potential of $202 million in financial impacts across the State, 900 direct and 2,250 total jobs amongst approximately 1,000 small businesses.
Infrastructure is critical and gigafying… everything… is certainly the sizzle. Utilization is the steak and we’d love to help you “feed” your small businesses the sme way we’re helping Arkansas and others across the globe.
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