As a recent economic study details the direct linkage between the internet ecosystem and economic growth across Arizona, a trio of Arizona-based business owners have joined a national coalition, Internet for Growth, to tell the stories of how their businesses have benefited from the internet’s unique ability to connect businesses and consumers.

The Economic Impact of the Market-Making Internet, a study released every four years by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), finds that the internet contributed $48 billion to the state’s GDP in 2020 and accounted for 135,900 jobs in Arizona.

The growth in Arizona’s internet jobs has been remarkable, going from around 37,000 in 2012 to just under 136,000 in 2020—a growth rate of 265 percent.

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Recently, the IAB helped launched a national coalition, Internet for Growth, to help capture the stories of the millions of creators, entrepreneurs, and small businesses that rely on the ad-supported internet so that as policy makers consider regulations, they have a full understanding of how the internet is being used to help grow and transform our economy. Internet for Growth has quickly grown to include more than 300 small businesses – including Arizona-based entrepreneurs Margaret Dunn, CEO of Dunn Transportation; Max Fose, President and CEO of Fose+McKay; and Allen Affeldt, the owner of the La Posada hotel in Winslow.

“This explosive growth shows clearly how critical the internet really is to the economy in Arizona, for businesses of every size and across every sector,” said Dunn, the founder and CEO of Scottsdale-based Dunn Transportation. “That’s why I’ve joined the Internet for Growth coalition, I want policymakers to understand how critical the internet has been to growing our business, to reaching our customers, and how important it is to every part of our state’s economy.”

According to the study, two of Arizona’s Congressional districts have at least 38,000 internet-dependent jobs. In two Arizona Congressional districts, internet-related jobs employ at least four percent of the population.

The dramatic job growth in the internet’s economic impact can be attributed to a number of factors, including the internet’s ability to improve and refine advertising and marketing approaches, particularly for small businesses.

“The internet lowers cost to entry for all businesses, while providing a significant benefit to small businesses,” said Max Fose, the President of Arizona-based advertising agency Fose+McKay. “Small businesses and the self-employed created 38 percent of internet jobs—a larger percentage than medium (28%) or large firms (34%). This shows how the internet democratizes business creation, allowing the smallest of firms to compete.”

“At Fose+McKay, the web and digital advertising are a key component of everything we do for our clients. To our agency, it’s like oxygen to a human being. We couldn’t live without it.”

Affeldt, whose La Posada property features a hotel, gardens, a gallery and a museum, cited the internet as a key driver of his business’ bottom line.

“If you’re in the tourism industry, the way we are at La Posada, then the internet is a lifeline for you,” said Allan Affeldt, the owner of the historic northern Arizona hotel. “Very few businesses today would be sustainable without the internet to help connect us with our customers. As the former Mayor of Winslow, I’ve joined the Internet for Growth coalition because I want our policymakers to see the world through the eyes of an entrepreneur who also understands politics: the Internet is mission-critical to the Arizona and U.S. economies.”

Nationally, the study finds that the internet economy grew seven times faster than the overall total U.S. economy, creating more than 7 million jobs in the last four years.