In recent years, a number of studies have shown that access to fast, reliable internet service can be vital to helping small businesses grow. However, not every smaller company across the country has access to that kind of service for a number of reasons, and now, lawmakers in the state of Maine are working to address that problem within their borders.
LD 826, a bill recently introduced to the state’s legislature, would add 400 percent to the budget for the state’s ConnectME internet authority – to $5 million annually from the current $1 million – in an effort to bring broadband internet service to the roughly 6 percent of state residents who do not have access to it at this time, according to a report from the Bangor Daily News. This will mostly impact farmers and other small businesses in remote, rural areas who may currently rely on spotty connections at best to peddle their wares.
“We upload and download pictures, produce mail order catalogs, use social media, produce a newsletter,” Jim Gerritsen, who owns and operates Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater and a supporter of the bill, told the newspaper. “Those are fairly typical needs for businesses. On Monday, during the busiest part of the shipping season, we did not have Internet for the entire day. We had no ability to process credit cards, look up orders or print labels. When you lose an entire day of work, it is hard to make it up.”
What’s the cost to businesses?
In theory, many farms could pay to have that service brought to their premises on their own, but most estimates put that kind of work from utilities companies in the tens of thousands of dollars range, the report said. Most cannot begin to afford that kind of price tag. If this bill passes, ConnectME could chip in significant funds to help in that process, and many within the state capitol seem to think there’s a strong chance it gets the support needed to pass. In the meantime, though, many will continue to struggle on occasion when their existing internet service drops out.
Owners who want to make sure that they’re doing all in their power to keep their costs depressed. That could include taking the time to find the most affordable small business insurance – including policies for liability insurance – available to them.