THE internet has become an absolutely vital tool for the army of small businesses that underpin Huntingdonshire's economy and employ the overwhelming majority of the district's workers, says the chairman of the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses. More than 800 of the six or seven thousand small companies in the district belong to the FSB, and the number rises each year. Chairman Malcolm Lyons, pictured, said yesterday: "Information technology has revolutionised small businesses. It's just so much easier to find what you want than it used to be. "And in some cases, it can save having to try to find a new employee - which can be a problem in a high-employment market." Mr Lyons, who has a grain-dealing business, said the Internet had enabled him to assess worldwide markets for clients any time of day, instead of having to rely on lengthy processes involving London brokers and transatlantic phone lines. "The internet saves us money as well as being more convenient. When a farmer comes on, we can use it to make informed judgments about market performance very quickly," he told The Hunts Post. "Grain is an international commodity, and I need to be able to look at markets in the US, France and London at the same time. And the time I save can be spent in a way that enables me to be more focused on the business. "Of course, the computer itself helps there, too, with record-keeping, stock control and so on." But it is the instant access the internet gives to small companies looking for local suppliers they would otherwise have difficulty in finding. "Businesses find it invaluable for searching out requirements, and it has opened up a much wider market. "It has really become second nature to us now. It's more than an essential part of business. It's what makes business tick.