Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bob McDonnell’s Plan to Make Virginia the “Best Place in America in Which to Open a Small Business”

PRESS RELEASE – FREDERICKSBURG– Bob McDonnell, Republican gubernatorial nominee and former Attorney General of Virginia, visited Jabberwocky Children’s Books in Fredericksburg today to unveil a number of proposals aimed at assisting Virginia’s small business owners. McDonnell was joined at the bookstore by store owners Mona Albertine and Linda Pisenti, and State Senator Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover). The small business policy proposals come at the same time that McDonnell is airing a new television commercial focused on his commitment to working across party lines to bring new jobs and more opportunities to every region of Virginia, and help Virginia’s small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The McDonnell small business policy proposals unveiled today include:

  • Commit Virginia Government to Approve Most Routine Business Applications within 48 Hours
  •  Significantly enhancethe “The Virginia Business One Stop” website into a “First and Only Stop” by increasing the information,resources, and assistance available to ensure that only one stop is necessary to get a new business up and running with minimal delay
  • Update and combine Virginia’s four different small business guides into one user-friendly document: “How to Start or Expand a Business”
  • Work with Virginia localities to get all necessary paperwork and forms for small business start ups online
  • Fast track the permit process for small businesses
  • Make it easier for businesses in good standingthat are expanding within Virginia, or moving into the state, to operate under temporary licenseswhile awaiting official approval
  • Promote Virginia as the “Best State in America in Which to Open a Small Business”

McDonnell will make further small business policy proposals in the months ahead.

Speaking about his focus on helping Virginia’s small business owners and creating new jobs, Bob McDonnell remarked, “Small businesses are the backbone of Virginia’s economy. 97.5% of Virginia’s businesses are small businesses. These small businesses account for approximately 75% of new job growth in the Commonwealth. And total employment by small businesses is roughly 55% of the job force in Virginia. A small business really represents the dream come true of the owner. That individual has dared to take a risk and open up a small business. In so doing they employ their fellow citizens, add needed revenue to state and local coffers, and strengthen the fabric of their communities. We need a resurgence of this entrepreneurial spirit in the Commonwealth. As Governor I will make Virginia the best state in American in which to open a small business.  And I will make Virginia the most business friendly state in America for small business owners. This will lead to new jobs and more opportunities in every region of Virginia.”

Mona Albertine, the owner of Jabberwocky Children’s Book Store, noted at today’s event “Bob McDonnell understands the importance of small businesses like Jabberwocky and what we do for our local economy.  Anything that can be done to help streamline and expedite the process for future small business owners is very much appreciated.”

Ms. Albertine’s comments were echoed by Thomas Johnson, of Thomas A. Johnson Furniture Co, Inc. in Lynchburg, who remarked, “It’s refreshing to learn that Bob McDonnell will stand up for the little guy and not only encourage small business development across Virginia, but also remove the bureaucratic red tape so that future entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to truly live the American Dream.”  

Gary Barlow, who owns Frank’s Trucking Center in Chesapeake, commented, “In an economy where every little bit helps, it’s nice to know that we will have someone in the governor’s mansion that will make our life a little bit easier.  As a small business owner, I commend Mr. McDonnell for understanding the pivotal role we play in the communities we serve.  Anything he can do to limit government involvement and make it easier for small business owners to open and maintain their establishment is a big win for all Virginians.”


Encouraging Entrepreneurship in the Commonwealth

Bob McDonnell will be a jobs Governor. He understands that every Virginian has been impacted by this economic downturn and is anxious about what the future holds. That’s why Bob McDonnell will make bringing new jobs and greater opportunity to every corner of the Commonwealth his top priority.

For most Virginians, jobs and opportunity means starting or expanding their own small business. Small businesses are 97.5% of all existing businesses in Virginia at 225,000 strong.  They account for approximately 75% of new job growth in the Commonwealth.  Total employment by small businesses is roughly 55% of the job force in Virginia. 

1 in 2 Americans in the private workforce are employed by or operate a small business. According to the Small Business Administration’s 2008 Small Business Profile, small business was responsible for creating all of the state’s net new jobs from 2004 to 2005.

It is clear that our free enterprise system and small businesses are the backbone of making Virginia the best place to live, work and visit. These individuals have continued to foster entrepreneurship and ingenuity while creating new jobs for Virginians.

In order to spur expansion of existing businesses and the establishment of new businesses that will pump revenue into our economy and employ thousands of Virginians, Bob McDonnell will significantly improve the resources available to those starting up or expanding a small business. 


The State’s Role:

States offer resources to facilitate business startups and grants or subsidies to ease the financial risks. States can also streamline the time and expense required to comply with the regulations and procedures for starting a business.

Currently, Virginia offers some services, including help with access to capital, small business counseling, workforce training and pro-active business problem-solving.

State and local governments require licensing, permits, inspections, and registrations but offer no single source of information on the rules and guidelines for adhering to these requirements nor is there a single source of information on the services available to a budding entrepreneur. 

There are two main “umbrella agencies” that help citizens with the creation and expansion of a business: the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and the Virginia Department of Business Assistance (VDBA).  The former’s primary focus is on large, established companies while the latter spends its resources on new, small business. In addition, over 25 different state agencies have a piece of the “entrepreneurial” small business pie.  They administer over 100 business assistance and regulatory programs, using more than 300 different forms.

About one in 10 adult (18-64 years) Americans are taking active steps to create a business.  Virtually all are doing so because they want to see an economic opportunity.  Several prominent major US employers began as one-person start-up firms: Starbucks, Sears, JC Penny’s, General Electric, Microsoft, Federal Express, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Apple, McDonald’s, Xerox, DuPont, Kodak and Corning.  These companies grew because they saw a need and met it.  Their growth helped their suppliers and vendors to grow, fueling the economy.

Unfortunately, prospective business owners often run in circles trying to track down information, often wasting a great deal of time and money in the process.  No one starts a small business to fill out paperwork but much of the startup time is spent complying with government mandates.

Virginia’s 2005 Small Business Initiative Report included a recommendation to provide “more efficient and effective services to Virginia small business and entrepreneurs through a coordination of Commonwealth services.”  To help ease the burden of entrepreneurs, Bob McDonnell will create a true “First and Only Stop” for businesses in Virginia.

 “First and Only Stop” for Businesses

“The Virginia Business One Stop” website portal was created through legislation in 2007. Bob supported this legislation and worked with the Kaine Administration to get the site up and running. This is a good first step, but this “one stop” website needs significant enhancement so that it can be used to the maximum extent by entrepreneurs. 

 The website does not start with a complete and user friendly guide listing all of the necessary documentation a person will need to go through the process on the website, rather it provides information on relatively simple business types in broad industry sectors. It assumes a Virginian has much of the necessary paperwork in order already and is ready to proceed with licensing. The current website gives us a good start, but to really help small business owners get off the ground, we need to take this process to the next level, including completely interfacing with all state agencies and localities to ensure that one, and only one, stop is necessary to get the business up and running with minimal delay.  We then need to actively promote the use of the website and resources to entrepreneurs statewide.

In large part, due to legislative and regulatory improvements recommended by the Attorney General’s Government and Regulatory Reform Task Force initiated by Bob McDonnell in 2006 and co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, much of the groundwork has been laid to take this next important step.  These improvements include tools to consolidate and refine the work of multiple state agencies and to make sure that they fully implement the benefits of modern technology to reduce the regulatory burden on business and consumers.

As Governor, Bob McDonnell will improve the technology that has been developed to create a “First and Only Stop” website for businesses that fast tracks entrepreneurship and economic opportunity, using existing resources to make this a reality. 

A tremendous example of an existing “one stop” website is the Virginia Education Wizard. Conceived by Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the community-college system, this one stop website allows students to take a career assessment, look at which industries are hiring, apply for financial aid, calculate college tuition and apply for school. This model will be used as a guide for the “First and Only Stop” business website.

 Create an Up-To-Date Guide for Businesses Creation and Expansion

The Commonwealth of Virginia has four different types of publications to help create and expand a business.  Each publication contains part of the information needed by an entrepreneur in Virginia.

 The “Business Registration Guide,” produced by the State Corporation Commission (SCC), the Virginia Employment Commission and the Virginia Department of Taxation, helps citizens establish their business in a step-by-step process – starting with the steps required before you can contact other state agencies.  Unfortunately, many do not know to look for this specific guide, which is not easily located on the SCC website, and it has not been updated since 2005.

The “Virginia Guide to Establishing a Business,” a publication of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), covers the basic taxes and regulations that businesses are subject to plus an extensive list of contacts for more information.  It does not contain the “how to” steps to form or expand a business.

The VEDP has two additional publications, “A Guide to Business Incentives” and a “Guide to Local Taxes on Business.”  While these contain important information, the fact that they are separate documents and are not easily located by an entrepreneur only makes the business owner’s job more difficult.

As Governor, Bob McDonnell will combine all resources into one updated manual.  The newly named “How to Start or Expand a Business” Manual (so that it is easy to find in an online search), will be the true first step on the “First and Only Stop” website. This guide will inform a prospective entrepreneur as to all possible documentation needed to apply for various government licenses, permits or other approvals in a prompt and user-friendly manner. 

Access Required Forms Online

Another hurdle citizens often face when researching what is needed to register their new business is that their particular locality may not have the required forms online. Rather than being able to continue with the process of completing all requirements seamlessly and efficiently, they spend hours tracking down the required paperwork and traveling back and forth from their city/county offices.

As a result of legislation recommended by McDonnell’s Government and Regulatory Reform Task Force and passed in 2009, state agencies that have regulations promulgated in accordance with the APA, are required to consider the option of electronic submission of paperwork and payment. The intent of this legislation was to provide citizens and the Commonwealth with the time and cost benefits of using electronic means of communications, to help ensure a uniform policy across state agencies, and to enable agencies to make these regulatory changes as expeditiously as possible with a minimal investment of state government staff hours and expense. As Governor, Bob will make sure this legislation is promptly implemented to the fullest extent.

This is a great step in the right direction, but for small businesses significant time is also lost at the local level. Virginia’s counties, cities and towns have made great strides in making local government easier to access for citizens and businesses.  Still, there are many instances where local governments have not posted their business related documents online or do not yet allow online submission. 

As Governor, Bob McDonnell will work with local governments to provide resources and assistance to help them post required forms online. Once this is accomplished statewide, Bob will work with local governments to offer online submission to citizens where possible. These will be incorporated into the “First and Only Stop” website so that all the information is in one place.

 Allow for Fast-Tracking of Permits and Licenses

For many first time business owners and those seeking to expand their business, the largest hurdle is time wasted tracking down permits, licenses, and other government documents, and then waiting for them to be approved before they can go into business.

Under the new and improved “First and Only Stop” website, we will link local and state government to allow citizens to apply once, so that they do not have to resubmit the same information to state agencies (like the State Corporation Commission) and their local governments for similar permits. We will also set a goal of providing online approval and prompt notification to those who apply online.

For individuals trying to expand their business to another jurisdiction in the state or for existing businesses in other states that are relocating to Virginia, we will make the permitting and licensing process faster and easier. For existing businesses that are “in good standing” within Virginia or their home state, we will issue temporary licenses so that they can begin working while the traditional license is being processed.

This will reward businesses who play by the rules.

For new businesses, the process will be more dependent on the type of business. Bob will work with small business organizations, state agencies and legislators to establish a system by which new businesses, such as trade skills that have been through an approved apprentice school or certification process, can be offered a similar temporary license to operate.

This fast-tracking initiative will help business owners and their employees get up and running easier and faster, with a goal of most routine applications filed with the State Corporation Commission to be approved within 48 hours.

 Ensure Entrepreneurs Know and Have Access to Resources 

 A comprehensive one stop website and guide and fast tracking licenses will go a long way to help entrepreneurs get their small business off the ground in a timely manner. But these proposals do not help Virginia citizens unless they know these types of resources exist and how to access them.

As Governor, Bob McDonnell will aggressively promote the “First and Only Stop” website and licensing recourses as part of an all out push to promote Virginia to outside businesses, as well as across the Commonwealth. When a Governor makes it his top priority to promote job creation and new opportunity, it sends a strong message to businesses in our surrounding, competing states as well as to those in Virginia who are thinking about starting up or expanding a business.

Bob McDonnell will work with technology experts to make sure that when an individual searches online for small business information, resources help or guides in Virginia they are directed to the “First and Only Stop” website. He will make sure that information about the website is linked on Virginia’s website because small businesses play such an integral role in economic growth in the Commonwealth.

He will also work with technology and business advocacy groups like Virginia FREE, National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Small Business Advisory Board and others to disseminate information to existing businesses that might be looking to expand. 

McDonnell Record on Supporting Small Businesses

As a legislator and Attorney General, Bob McDonnell’s history of supporting small business issues is strong and extensive. As Attorney General, Bob McDonnell established the Government and Regulatory Reform Task Force, co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, to eliminate burdensome and duplicative government regulations and ensure that regulations do not unnecessarily hinder free enterprise. The Task Force reviewed over 8700 pages of regulations, passed 4 significant legislative initiatives (including fast track repeal and ensuring state agencies make forms and filings available online), and made approximately 350 recommendations for changes to sections of the Administrative Code.

As a legislator, he received multiple 100% rankings from the National Federation of Independent Business for his support of pro-small business legislation. During his 14 years in the General Assembly, Bob’s cumulative business rating from Virginia FREE, an independent association committed to protecting and strengthening Virginia’s prosperous business environment, was a 79 and his ratings were consistently among the top legislators. He sponsored legislation to provide a tax credit to certain employers hiring recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and to streamline and enhance the Public-Private Transportation Act. He supported efforts to reduce the Virginia corporate income tax rate, to expand enterprise zones, and legislation to require the Department of Economic Development to prepare a statement of fiscal impact on small business in Virginia of legislation considered by the General Assembly.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Business, Election 2009, Politics, State Politics

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