Mayor Signs on to President’s New “Startup in a Day” Small Business Initiative

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is signing on to President Barack Obama’s new “Startup in a Day” initiative challenging local municipalities to prune down the time it takes to get a new business up and running by streamlining permitting processes.

White House officials and Lee announced the new initiative in a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon.

“People with good ideas don’t have time to wait, because time is money, but it takes too long to start a business in most places,” White House National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients said. “Often there’s just too much red tape and it takes weeks to wade through all the paperwork to start a business.”

Lee touted the city’s new business portal, launched in November, which makes the necessary permits and paperwork easily accessible to aspiring business owners.

As part of his pledge to the White House, Lee said the city aims to make permits submittable for approval online in the next 12 months.

Right now, it can take several weeks for a new business to get the necessary permits to open, but Lee said he thinks the process will get much faster once it’s online.

Lee said once the new system is complete, the city will share a report with other municipalities so they can learn from San Francisco’s successes and challenges in building the new system.

San Francisco also stands to receive some federal prize money for building the website. The city that builds the best online tool will receive $50,000, White House Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said. The city that builds the best open tool for use by other municipalities could win $250,000.

Lee said by making the process easier, the city could be helping along an impatient entrepreneur who could create the next great San Francisco restaurant or even the next Salesforce or Twitter.

“We all know how hard it is to start a business,” he said. “I think it is the role of government to remove as many needless barriers as possible.”

The city’s business portal website is available at

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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