There’s no better opportunity for online businesses to thrive than now. Since the lockdown started, there has been a surge of online shopping activity around the country. Research by the US Census Bureau shows that e-commerce sales amounted to $212 billion by the end of June (Q2). This was at least 6% more than last year’s numbers for the quarter. Their Q3 report will be released sometime this month, but the trend is growing steeper. But in more than any state, online businesses are getting some of the best support in Mississippi. Here’s why:
There’s plenty of government support digitally
During this year’s Government Experience Awards, Mississippi’s official state website, ms.gov, and associated digital government services were awarded top honors for their seamless use of “emerging technology” to improve government services for their residents. This includes business processes as well.
For example, the process of registering a business in the state is really straightforward. To apply for sole proprietorship in Mississippi, the government will require nothing but the mandatory licenses and permits, which can be passed using the state’s online filing system. However, this particular business structure doesn’t allow people to separate their personal and business assets, so the more mindful of the crowd apply for an LLC instead. Thankfully, the process of registering an LLC in Mississippi is pretty simple, albeit with some additional data needed to establish a separate entity for their business. For those interested, major documents like a Certificate of Formation and an Employer Identification Number can all be filed online.
Additionally, the government, in collaboration with the Mississippi Development Authority, has developed a website (backtobusinessms.org) that small business owners can use to apply for grants.
There are a lot of online business grants and incentives
Speaking of grants, Mississippi has no shortage of them. We’ve already mentioned Back to Business, to which the federal government has allocated $300 million. To qualify, a business needs to have no more than 50 employees and be a sole proprietor, a partnership, or an LLC.
Some other notable grants and incentives include the Job Protection Grant Program, which can be used to fund businesses in “at-risk” industries (like travel and hospitality) to help them attract talent back to Mississippi. Meanwhile, the Small Business Loan Guaranty Program encourages owners to expand their business. Through it, the state provides low-interest loans that online businesses can use to fund their capital. If an online business produces its own goods and needs a place to store them, the Property Tax Exemption on In-State Inventory will allow them to avoid certain costs.
There are plenty more listed on the state’s Development Authority website, mississippi.org. In fact, depending on the online business’ industry, they may apply for more funding.
Additionally, private entities like FedEx, the National Association for the Self-Employed, and Nav are also offering monetary support for local online businesses.
There’s going to be faster internet
No online business can thrive without access to a fast, stable internet connection. And though the networks around the state aren’t bad, local telecommunication lines are looking to make it better. For instance, The Bay Springs Telephone Company is shelling out $4.6 million to deploy “fiber-to-the-premise” networks in order to connect over 5,000 different users to high-speed broadband. For now, the locations that will get the upgrade are limited to Smith, Jasper, Newton, Lauderdale, and Jones counties. However, other counties may see high-speed internet support in the coming months.
A separate initiative by the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff includes building internet lines so that connection reaches the rural areas as well. Not only does this mean that aspiring business owners in those locations will be able to register, but since more users are getting internet access, the potential profit for online businesses are going to be higher than ever.
Online business is thriving in the country, but those registered in Mississippi get better support than most states. Whether that’s because of the improved online support, existing grants, or faster networks, the future for e-commerce is bright in the state.
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