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OpenCounter Indy, brings online convenience to small business owners

Posted by ehayden on December 1, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS November 30, 2015 - For entrepreneurs and employers, time is often the most valuable - and scarce - resource. Today, the Indy Chamber's Business Acceleration Team launched a new online tool that slashes the amount of time required to open or expand a business in Marion County: OpenCounter Indy allows companies to apply for permits, licenses, and navigate other city agencies and processes with a few clicks and keystrokes. 

Part of Mayor Ballard's Indianapolis Business Acceleration Team initiative launched in 2013, OpenCounter Indy aims to replace in-person visits to city agencies like the Departments of Code Enforcement and Metropolitan Development with the convenience of a secure online session. The OpenCounter portal provides each applicant with a customized outline of the necessary permits, project licenses and fees, detailing relevant zoning and other rules while collecting the data that local governments require to ensure public health and safety.

"Before OpenCounter Indy, navigating local permitting requirements was cumbersome," said Indy Chamber President and CEO Michael Huber. "Most companies today have embraced e-commerce and other ways of using technology to make the customer experience easier - we believe that the public sector owes the same level of service to Indianapolis businesses. We were eager to partner with the City of Indianapolis to move in that direction."

By moving this process online, the City and Chamber are hoping to be able to provide reliable, targeted data to the small business and entrepreneurial community on their schedules, while eliminating duplicative data entry, forms and submissions that require resources on both "sides of the counter."

"Small businesses are the fastest-growing part of our economy, and we saw an opportunity to help them grow even faster," said Mayor Greg Ballard. "There are very few tools intentionally designed to give employers a clear breakdown of the proper permitting and licensing needed for their plans. With OpenCounter Indy, we're looking to cut time, complexity, mileage and red tape - it's going to be a valuable resource."

OpenCounter Indy is a powerful new tool for businesses. While it does not change any rules, it improves the interface and provides businesses with a customized guide. OpenCounter Indy will allow the Indy Chamber's regulatory and permitting ombudsman to proactively assist in the approvals of permits and licenses while mitigating any delays.

"OpenCounter Indy adds to the suite of services the Indy Chamber provides to entrepreneurs to help them succeed ," added Huber. "We offer business coaching, microlending, networking and a host of technical assistance programs; with OpenCounter Indy, we can say we're giving them back some of their time as well."

The launch of OpenCounter Indy is part of a national movement to encourage municipal governments to streamline the process for starting up a business as part of the National League of Cities' Startup in a Day initiative. The NLC Community of Practice will look to Indianapolis a s a leader in meeting the Startup in a Day pledge, as Indianapolis has the opportunity to share best practices with other cities and engage with peer cities on additional regulatory reform efforts and strategies. Mayor Ballard joined dozens of other cities in the pledge to ease the burden of businesses to Startup in a Day in 2015.

OpenCounter Indy is available in both English and Spanish. To learn more about OpenCounter Indy visit: https://indianapolis.opencounter.com/.
 

About Indy Chamber
The Indy Chamber is the voice of progress and improvement for the Indianapolis region's business community. With membership of nearly 2,300 businesses representing 230,000 employees in the Indianapolis region, the Indy Chamber is leading the effort to strengthen the business climate, improve the state of education, revitalize neighborhoods and enhance the region's workforce. For more information, visit IndyChamber.com.
 
About OpenCounter
Designed for the citizen experience, OpenCounter asks the right questions, in the right order, so citizens can see the requirements, fees, and processing time that apply to their projects. By making information available across departments, OpenCounter also helps municipalities coordinate internal workflows, and build better relationships with the citizens that they serve. OpenCounter was piloted through a Code for America fellowship in the City of Santa Cruz, CA and has been supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

About Startup in a Day Initiative
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. More information can be found here.

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Media Contacts: 

 Jessica Higdon, Indy Chamber, 317.464.2232, jhigdon(at)indychamber.com

Chris Watts, CVR Public Relations, 317.514.3184, cwatts(at)cvrindy.com 

Peter Koht, OpenCounter, 415.573.2407, peter(at)opencounter.com