LA launches open source business portal

LA launches open source business portal

Los Angeles has launched LA Business Portal to help entrepreneurs and business owners more easily find the federal, state and local licensing and permitting information they need.

The mobile-friendly multilingual site features a startup guide in which entrepreneurs answer a series of questions about their prospective businesses, and the site generates a step-by-step registration checklist to complete the applications necessary to register the business. Starter kits provide checklists for popular business types, such as restaurants, nail salons, retail outlet and e-commerce sites. The startup guide cuts the process of registering a business from several days to about 20 minutes by combining the process for local, state and federal registration into one place, according to Nathalie Destandau, the chief strategist at Tomorrow Partners, the design group helped build the portal.

Besides information on starting a business, the LA Business Portal includes information on how to manage and grow a startup, as well as links to relevant city agencies and information about key dates and deadlines.

With small businesses a key component of economic development, cities and states around the country have been working to streamline the administrative processes required for startups.

After Maryland completed a similar project, it outlined some ways others could  successfully implement it. A focus on mobile was important, as was setting several smaller milestones rather than chasing after one gigantic goal. Maryland decided to tackle business registration first (the largest percentage of filings), with the goal of adding new functionalities each quarter to keep the initiative on track.

Similarly, the LA Business Portal has launched, but features will be tweaked and new ones added as feedback comes in. “The release doesn’t mean it’s the end of the project,” Destandau said. “It’s more like the beginning … I know it will be changed and will be improved with user input.”

The open source LA Business Portal was funded by the Small Business Administration's Start Up In A Day initiative and used the codebase of San Francisco’s Business Portal as a foundation for LA's code.

As an open source project, the LA Business Portal can help cities without the resources or capacity to build a solution from the ground up improve their business climate, officials said. The startup guides and starter kits for popular business types will be made available to be adapted and used by other local government entities.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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