White House joins with 11 cities for ‘Startup in a Day’ initiative to help businesses launch faster

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee shops at Foggy Notion in the Inner Richmond with Supervisor Eric Mar all in support of local small businesses. (Photo: Mayor Ed Lee)
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee shops at Foggy Notion in the Inner Richmond with Supervisor Eric Mar all in support of local small businesses. (Photo: Mayor Ed Lee)

In an effort to help entrepreneurs get businesses legally established without the red tape hassle, the White House, Small Business Administration and National League of Cities are rallying cities to provide simpler online tools and processes for those applying for licenses and permits.

According to the White House, the “Startup in a Day” initiative aims to encourage cities to “develop online tools that let entrepreneurs discover and apply—in less than a day—for local, state, and federal requirements needed to start a business.”

The initiative, via the SBA, will host a competition for $1.5 million in prizes that includes $50,000 to 25 communities and $250,000 in prizes to a consortium of “local and state governments who team up to develop tools that cover multiple regions, or that can be easily repurposed by other localities.”

Cities who have already made “Startup in a Day” pledge commitments include Boston, Chattanooga (TN), Denver, Fresno, (CA), Kansas City (MO), Nashville, San Francisco, St. Petersburg (FL), Salt Lake City, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

As part of this initiative, I’d love to see cities work together to create data standards around license and permit data and pledge to make this data available via read and write application programming interfaces that could work for more than just one tool, as opposed to solely encouraging the development of tools. This could also be the basis for localized business directories that would serve citizens looking for more information about a specific business or types of businesses in their community.

This is great news for business permit licensing startup OpenCounter. Expect to see momentum from them on some front in the near future, perhaps even an infusion of venture funding.

“Startup in a Day” pledge

Our cities and communities are committed to making it easier for every entrepreneur to start a business. We believe an entrepreneur’s time is best spent developing innovative products and services, creating jobs, and growing local economies—not navigating red tape. While fair zoning rules, licenses, and permits are important to ensuring public safety and fair competition, it shouldn’t take more than a day for entrepreneurs to identify and begin to apply, ideally through a single online tool, for the licenses and permits they need to responsibly launch a business. Accordingly, we resolve to:

1. Create a “Startup in a Day” online tool within 12 months: We will develop within a year a website or application that lets most entrepreneurs identify and begin to apply within one day for all requirements to launch a business in our respective communities.

2. Develop a streamlined, business-friendly, online permitting system: Our pledge is a first step in a larger effort to streamline, simplify, and bring online those regulatory requirements that have traditionally been fragmented across multiple agencies and handled through a paper-based process. Our ultimate goal is for small business owners to be able to manage and complete most of their regulatory obligations within a single easy-to-use online system.

3. Share best practices: In an effort to encourage other municipalities to join us in this effort, we are joining a community of practice administered by the National League of Cities, and commit to sharing best practices, publicizing key learnings, highlighting tangible outcomes, supporting smart regulatory simplification, and providing visibility into our actions.

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh. He is also co-founder and CEO of ProudCity. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at luke@govfresh.com.

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