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Jim Rawlinson here, your Regulatory and Permitting Ombudsman at the Indy Chamber. A member of the Develop Indy team, I am contracted with the City of Indianapolis to help businesses and individuals interact with the City administration quickly and easily. I’m here to help connect you to resources you need at the city, advise on anything permitting, zoning, etc. related, and help un-stick your sticky situations. In the last few years, it has become a real focus by the City administration to find ways to prioritize things like speed and customer experience, which kind of falls totally in line with what I do. So let’s talk today about the top online services to help entrepreneurs in Marion County open their businesses!

There are a number of helpful online tools available to the public that have popped up to help you get the information you need for projects here in Indianapolis. In my daily interactions throughout the City there are a few that I think could be really helpful that people might not realize are out there

1. OpenCounter Indy

Develop Indy and the Department of Business & Neighborhood Services worked together a few years ago to build a tool that focuses on zoning and permitting in Indianapolis. Open Counter works with municipalities all around the country developing tools that allow citizens to find information on what would be required to open businesses in their areas and Indianapolis was one of their first major partners. The site is designed to be intuitive and as easy to use as possible. Users tell it what they want to do and it builds a process tree explaining what would be needed for that project. It’s extremely helpful for prospective business owners to ballpark costs of permitting and the information required to get those permits. The second tool, which actually came directly out of Open Counter, is Zoning Check. On Zoning Check you can, well, check your zoning. This is a very simple but crucial step that a lot of business owners overlook. With this tool a user can either put in an address to find what it is currently zoned or put in a use to see a map of areas in the city where that would be permitted. Check it out! It’s free!

2. MapIndy

If you go to maps.indy.gov there are a number of GIS applications that you can use for any site in the city. The one I usually prefer to use is MapIndy . This allows users to find out a ton of information, things like: zoning; parcel numbers; floodways; historic preservation districts; right of way; and more.

3. Citizens Access Portal

The other site that I’d recommend familiarizing yourself with is the Citizens Access Portal http://permitsandcases. indy.gov/citizenAccess/. This is the actual program that the city staff uses to push your permits and cases through the process. Here you can submit some permits yourself and track them as they go through the process. You can also research violations history of properties, which can be helpful if you are thinking about buying a property or dealing with a problem neighbor.

4. Shift Indy

I saved maybe the best for last. In his “2018 State of the City” speech, Mayor Hogsett pointed out that the City wants to fundamentally change the way that citizens interact with the administration. At the forefront of this effort is Shift Indy ( http://my.indy.gov ), which is in the process of replacing the City’s website and becoming the digital face of the City of Indianapolis. Chief Information Officer Ken Clark and his team at ISA’s work even won a Mira Award for “Corporate Innovator of the Year” earlier this year. As of June 2018, you can now access 50 different city services here including paying your property taxes, finding bidding opportunities for city work, applying for homestead deductions, reporting potholes and damaged roads and much more. It makes city and county government more accessible and efficient.

One last plug! Did you know you could see the animals being cared for at Animal Care Services online? Looking for a new family member or partner? Check out IACS’s Pet List! All adoption fees for animals at IACS are being waived through June 22nd

Contact Jim Rawlinson at jrawlinson@indychamber.com