When a climber gets ready to start a climb, he calls out “On Belay?” and his safety man, or Belayer, responds “Belay On” to indicate that he is ready do his job to protect the climber. These commands are followed by “Climbing” and “Climb On”.
The same thing is supposed to happen when a new business gets ready to open. They visit the development department for a plans review and the city staff are supposed to respond with telling them it is okay to move forward.
Climbing requires a partnership and so does opening a new business. The business owner and the city staff need to work closely together to get the business open.
Communication is the key. If that communication breaks down, delays ensue and everyone involved tend to get frustrated.
Back in the bad old days, there were folks in the development department who seemed to enjoy making life a living hell for anyone wanting to open a business. There were some good reasons that quite a few storefronts stayed empty for years and some of those reasons worked at City Hall.
Mercifully, that is no longer the case. Delays still occur and things aren’t as seamless as they could be, but we’re making progress and all the key players are working hard to guide new business owners through the process. I can think of two examples just in the last week where business owners and city staff have been working to solve problems together.
Even after a business opens, city staff is there to assist the business owner.
I’ve talked about the city’s business incubator in the past. It isn’t just for startups. The incubator has a regular series of free classes available to business owners.
The city has a matching grant program available to assist businesses in growing. These grants include sign & facade grants as well as grants for renovations. These grants help reduce the cost of changes like adding a bathroom or changing out doors.
The key is to create an environment where businesses can flourish and create good paying jobs.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor