AUSTIN, TEXAS – The City of Austin’s Small Business Program within the Economic Development Department was one of 25 cities nationwide to be awarded a $50,000 Startup in a Day grant by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Startup in a Day initiative aims to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start a business by reducing the amount of time it takes to register and apply for permits and licenses on the local level. Awards are to support the development, implementation, and improvement of online tools that let entrepreneurs learn about the business startup process in their area, including how to register and apply for all required local licenses and permits, in one day or less.
Austin was the only Texas community selected for the Startup in a Day award.
“Small business is big business in Austin,” said Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Assistant Director for the City’s Economic Development Department. “As the backbone of our economy, this award is an important step to creating the best possible environment for small businesses to thrive in Austin.”
Austin’s award will be used to design and implement an electronic small business permitting customer service platform that will allow small businesses and entrepreneurs to apply online for permits to open or expand business. Austin has partnered with Bazaarvoice, a local business and American leader in customer service, to develop the concept. The Startup in a Day grant will allow Austin to pilot the BizRight system, the first system for small business permitting adopting user-friendly technologies. This platform will also be replicable on a nationwide basis, saving businesses and governments important time and revenues.
There is a growing demand from Austin’s 38,000 businesses for permits to start or expand their business. According to a 2013 study, conducted in partnership between the Economic Development Department and the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the Austin metro area grew from 21,000 to 33,000 between 2007 and 2012. This number is estimated to increase to 42,000 by 2020.
“The Small Business Program provides a variety of training, coaching, educational events for small businesses, and operates an $11 million Federally-funded, low-interest loan program for family-owned businesses that are ready to expand and create new jobs in low-income areas of Austin,” said Joy Miller, Acting Small Business Program Manager. “By accelerating the implementation of the BizRight platform, the Startup in a Day award will improve another key service offered by the Small Business Program – assistance navigating the City’s complex permitting process.”
BizRight is set to launch between the City's Economic Development and Development Services Departments in 2016.
The Small Business Program is a division of the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department, and is committed to providing opportunities and resources to small businesses to help them grow and prosper in a competitive business environment. For more information about the Small Business Program, visit SmallBizAustin.org.
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