We need to embrace tech-friendly policies on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast: Opinion

The Gulf Coast is known for many things – our beaches, our wildlife, our leisure and hospitality industry – and now for our burgeoning tech sector that has brought jobs, innovation, and growth to our local economy.

As a member of Mississippi’s Senate Technology Committee, I have seen firsthand the positive impact of the tech sector here on the Gulf Coast. One example is the Mississippi State University-led Mississippi Cyber Center, located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Harrison County Campus. As part of the Mississippi Cyber Initiative, this center has brought an initial state investment of $3.5 million and serves as a hub for a growing network of partners, including our own Keesler Air Force Base, across our state working to put Mississippi at the forefront of cybersecurity.

The Gulf Coast is also attracting tech companies from other corners of the U.S., like Ocean Aero, which relocated to Mississippi from San Diego in 2021. These companies bring new high-tech jobs, research opportunities, and industry development with them. These investments help foster a thriving economy and drive growth in our region.

I’m proud that the Magnolia State has chosen to welcome the tech sector with open arms. By supporting tech-friendly policies and investing in innovative programs, Mississippi has sent a clear message that tech companies can call our state home. We’ve worked hard to attract these companies that we believe will do right by Mississippians – but there’s still more to do.

It’s crucial that our state stands up to the Biden administration and its anti-tech policies that are stifling innovation and preventing regions like ours from reaching their fullest potential.

The current Department of Justice (DOJ) trial against Google is a prime example of these poor policy choices. The Biden administration alleges that Google is harming consumers by maintaining a dominant share of the search market. In essence, they are arguing that Google has worked too hard; become too successful; innovated too much.

This sends a bad message to companies and discourages competition in the tech space. If the government punishes the most successful company in its field, why should anyone else strive to be the best? In targeting Google for its successes, the administration is creating a chilling effect on innovation and depressing competition.

And yes, the implications of this lawsuit reach far and wide, but they hit close to home, too. Google employs hundreds of Mississippi workers and, in 2021, invested over $10 million in the state’s post-pandemic economic recovery. We need companies like Google – here in Mississippi and across the country.

Perhaps most concerning is that this is more than just an attack on a successful American company. This is a gross miscalculation that leaves the Gulf Coast and the rest of our country vulnerable to national security threats as other countries like China continue to innovate and reward, not punish, success in the tech space.

There are real issues out there that the administration needs to address. Curbing American innovation in the tech sector just isn’t one of them.

We must consider the implications of this kind of policy position here in Mississippi and take a different approach to preserve our progress and remain open to future opportunities. Let’s continue to embrace innovation and tech development here on the Gulf Coast. It’s the right thing to do.