Permitted to Succeed? Part One

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Mayor Menino’s new budget proposal included the intriguing commitment to create a “one-stop shop” for small business permitting. The state has long strived to create these kind of permitting shops, prompting one state official to muse that it might be worth putting together a guide to all the “one stop shops” in state government.

To some extent, the city has consolidated some of those functions at 1010 Mass Ave., but a quick review of the city’s permitting literature reveals that there is significant consolidation to be done. With different agencies located at 1010 Mass Ave., City Hall, 26 Court St., and other locations, a true one-stop shop will require a lot of consolidation.

Physical co-location is a great first step, but the next step is less about moving offices and more about leadership. With everyone in the same spot, informal cooperation should be demanded. Who can lead that process? Who is in charge of economic development? According to the Mayor’s budget, that’s the role of the BRA, who is the sole member of the Mayor’s Economic Development cabinet.

But other important economic development-related functions, like the Office of Business Development,which includes the Main Streets program, (but not the Back Streets program that, somewhat curiously, lives at the BRA) and Inspectional Services Department, are outside the BRA and outside the Economic Development cabinet. Will they be co-located too?

Who is the champion for someone looking to start a small business in one of the neighborhoods? I don’t think it’s realistic to think it’s going to be Peter Meade.

In future blog installments, I’ll explore other issues that should be addressed if the Mayor’s proposal for a Business Resource Center is to succeed.

Cross-posted at Boston Daily.