Access to Information

An impediment to launching a company is the process of navigating the maze of city processes and regulations. The problem is magnified for entrepreneurs in historically disenfranchised communities as they lack resources and networks to help navigate these systems. Local governments solve this issue by democratizing access to information to business owners.

CASE STUDY: DETROIT’S BIZGRID

Web platform to diagnose and provide contact information to address any startup’s needs. Has three main components: 1) Survey assessing stage of startup, 2) Survey diagnosing startup’s needs, 3) Output of organizations and contact information that can provide direct assistance to current needs: http://detroitbizgrid.com/

OVERVIEW

  • Origin: Launched in 2013 by the Detroit Business Support Network
  • Funding: Collaboration of non-profit and public actors, including the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation
  • Web-tool turned into physical brochure that is distributed in city offices and small business centers

RESULTS TO DATE

  • 83 organizations currently signed up and listed on Bizgrid platform
  • Expanded to 8 supports areas:
  • Licensing and permitting, R&D, workforce, financial management, funding, space, business strategy, and sales and marketing
  • Expanded to Arabic, Spanish and Bengali formats
  • Wide adoption among Detroit business community
  • Nationally acclaimed as one of most efficient business information portals

CASE STUDY: SAN FRANCISCO BUSINESS PORTAL

One-stop-shop web tool that provides information and resources to assist small businesses in getting business off the ground: https://businessportal.sfgov.org/

OVERVIEW

  • Origin: Launched in 2014 by the City’s Economic & Workforce Development Office
  • Funding: $657,060 budgeted funding to build
  • Outsourced building of business portal to local IT firm
  • Strong emphasis on eliminating red tape and navigating complex processes / issues of getting business off the ground
  • Took 8 months to build

RESULTS TO DATE

  • Hosts 428 permit processes to fill-out and submit on the website
  • Received national and international recognition for user-centered design and ease of use
  • Averages 17,479 page views per month from 18 different departments
    • 13x City’s previous online business solution
  • Expanded to ten different languages to cater toward immigrant communities
  • White House awarded portal $50k grant in “Startup Day” competition