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Posted: January 31, 2013

The Internet: An innovation engine

It is vital to Colorado's economy

Michael Beckerman

As our nation begins its path towards economic recovery, lawmakers and citizens alike must protect one of our country’s greatest economic accelerators, the Internet. The Internet is the fastest growing sector of the U.S. economy, accounting for nearly 5 percent of our national GDP. The Internet is not just Silicon Valley anymore; it helps create jobs and grow small businesses here in Colorado. In order to ensure our nation’s economic success, we must continue to promote an innovative and free Internet.

While Washington grapples with budgets, spending, and partisan politics, lawmakers must agree on one thing - Internet innovation is key to economic prosperity. In the long term, protecting a thriving Internet will only continue to benefit our nation.

The elected leaders of Colorado have already taken steps to preserve Internet innovation. For instance, the Colorado congressional delegation fought against Congress’ misguided attempts to censor the Internet through SOPA and PIPA last year. Specifically, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis took strong stances against these bills by explaining their potential detrimental effects to the Internet ecosystem, particularly its effect on jobs in Colorado. These bills spurred a global grassroots movement, with significant participation from small businesses and students at colleges and universities in Colorado, illustrating the necessity of a free, innovative and decentralized Internet.

Last year, Colorado leaders like Polis and U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette co-sponsored a House bill to preempt the United Nations’ attempt to expand its authority over the Internet. Unfortunately, this debate will continue.

The Internet is vital to Colorado’s economy: Nearly three out of four Coloradans use the Internet, ranking it 9th in the nation for overall usage, significantly outpacing the state's population, which ranks 22nd. It inspires entrepreneurs of tomorrow while successfully growing Colorado’s small businesses community. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said that “Denver is the number one destination for 25- to 34-year-olds who are moving to Denver on a scale that is not being matched anywhere else in the country.”

In Colorado, government officials and business leaders alike understand that investing in America’s innovation is key. This keen understanding cultivates an environment that promotes the development of innovative startups like Boulder’s Modular Robotics, a company that creates toy robots that encourage children to form an interest in engineering by learning how to create, revise and innovate.

The Internet provides advantages beyond the technology space. Ski resorts use Internet marketing to attract millions of tourists each year. Professors at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado are using the Internet to encourage students to be leaders of tomorrow. The ingenuity, intellect and passion for innovation and economic growth in Colorado is abundantly clear.

The Internet is a catalyst for fostering innovation and economic growth. Ensuring legislators, regulators and all stakeholders understand the profound positive impacts of the Internet on jobs, commerce and freedom is critical. The Internet Association believes that a careful and vigilant look into Internet policy must be a priority for Colorado. We must guard against misguided attempts to handcuff this incredible engine of economic growth and prosperity. Preserving the innovative Internet will help Colorado continue to thrive and in turn help America find our footing on the road to recovery.

Spread the word and make your voice heard.

Michael Beckerman is President and CEO of The Internet Association, representing the interests of the leading Internet companies including Amazon.com, AOL, eBay, Expedia, Facebook, Google, IAC, LinkedIn, Monster Worldwide, Rackspace, salesforce.com, TripAdvisor, Yahoo!, and Zynga.  The Internet Association is dedicated to advancing public policy solutions to strengthen and protect Internet freedom, foster innovation and economic growth, and empower users.

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