Minneapolis: Business Made Simple will reduce regulation and simplify City processes for businesses
MINNEAPOLIS (April 2, 2015) — Minneapolis is ramping up its effort to make the city a better place to start and grow a small business. Today, Mayor Betsy Hodges outlined the next steps for the Minneapolis: Business Made Simple initiative in her annual State of the City address. The program will take a coordinated look at ways to streamline and simplify how businesses work with the City.
“Minneapolis is home to thousands of thriving businesses that help make our community a better place and create the jobs of the future,” said Mayor Hodges. “We need to encourage even more success stories. That’s why we have to make sure that we’re opening the door for our entrepreneurs of the 21st century who want to invest in our city. When someone wants to open a business in Minneapolis, the City should make it as easy as possible for them to succeed. Sometimes that means simply getting out of the way and making it easier for entrepreneurs to do business.”
Minneapolis regulates many types of businesses in order to protect consumers and keep them safe. But over the years, many ordinance changes and additions have been made in response to individual problems, leaving the city with a network of regulations that can sometimes be complex and cumbersome. Also, as businesses and economic conditions change, some older regulations are no longer necessary and can stand in the way of new investment.Ultimately, obsolete or unnecessary regulations can get in the way of opening or expanding a successful business
Minneapolis: Business Made Simple is an effort to reduce barriers business owners face when investing in our city. This can mean simplifying some City rules or eliminating them altogether. At the same time, smart regulation that’s clear and easier to follow will help businesses with compliance, saving them and City staff time and money.
“There are so many ways that new and growing businesses interact with the City, and it’s not always as smooth as it could be,” said City Attorney Susan Segal. “That includes issuing business licenses, performing food safety inspections, or enforcing rules related to alcohol sales, or zoning, just to name a few. Each of these interactions offers an opportunity for us to look at how we regulate and how we might make it easier for businesses to thrive. While the City has made continuous progress, with this new, coordinated effort, we can have a greater impact and achieve even better results.”
The City Attorney’s Office, working with many City departments, recently released a report that makes a range of recommendations on how the City can streamline and simplify the processes that businesses need to follow. City staff will move forward in the coming months to adopt recommendations in the report and bring changes to the City Council for consideration when needed.
In the last few years, the City has taken many steps to simplify doing business in Minneapolis, including crating a customer service center for business customers and contractors, reforming rules on liquor sales, eliminating some types of business licenses, legalizing mobile food vendors and cutting in half the time it takes for a business to get a liquor license. Minneapolis is also one of the first cities in the country to develop a licensing process that allows rideshare transportation services like Uber and Lyft to operate in the city.
To help launch Minneapolis: Business Made Simple, City staff have put together a set of key goals and additional improvements that could be made moving forward.
Highlights from the recommendations include:
Simplify and streamline:
• Develop simple checklists that will help small businesses understand and navigate City processes.
• Simplify license application requirements by determining whether some requirements can be narrowed or eliminated.
• Eliminate additional types of business licenses and consolidate others to simplify the application process.
Provide special assistance for small businesses:
• Create a position within the City that will serve as a navigator for small businesses so they have an easier time working through City processes.
• Give clearer guidance to new entrepreneurs by developing specialized information materials with helpful guidance for small businesses.
Make things easier and faster:
• Shorten the timeline for City processes by requiring fewer items to have a two-month public hearing process before they can be approved and by creating a system that will allow multiple departments to review plans concurrently, instead of one at a time.
• Proactively provide guides to developers on design elements the City is looking for in building projects, rather than just reacting to submitted plans.
Improve coordination and eliminate inconsistency:
• Establish an interdepartmental work group at the City that will identify and resolve issues that are handled inconsistently within divisions and between departments.
Deliver better customer service and plan for continuous improvement:
• Develop and implement customer service training for relevant City staff.
• Create a work group with representatives from City departments and divisions to plan, coordinate and oversee continuous improvement in the City’s business development review, approvals and licensing process.