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Thread: Procedures for a new business

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Procedures for a new business

    If someone were to call City Hall and say they are wanting to bring a business to town,(say a 10,000 s.f. retail) what procedures should be in place from the city's point?
    Do most towns have packets ready to hand developers with city codes and other agencies they should be getting in touch with?
    What kind of meetings do you set up and who is involved?(Chamber of Commerce,etc)
    How involved are your elected officials in the process?
    How do you go about promoting a business friendly environment to compete with the next town over?

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    If someone were to call City Hall and say they are wanting to bring a business to town,(say a 10,000 s.f. retail) what procedures should be in place from the city's point?
    I wouldn't say the procedures are the issue. What the city needs to have in place is a clearly defined explanation of the procedures so that a business owner knows what to expect and doesn't get surprised along the way. I'm in a small town, but we utilize a Development Review Committee on a regular schedule comprised of key city staff and key staff from other agencies in order to answer all questions at once. We do this regardless of project size, and have found that developers often perceive it positively as us being proactive, even though we are really just trying to save ourselves headaches later. If you're getting toward the policy side of things, the same of the game is predictability. It is having procedures in place that assure everyone is treated the same, with clear regulations (they can be as strict as you need, but they need to be clearly understood). The more admistrative (staff approval) your process is, the better.

    Do most towns have packets ready to hand developers with city codes and other agencies they should be getting in touch with?
    My town does, mainly because it simplifies the process for everyone involved. We even have a basic "fill-in-the-blank" form that functions like a due-diligence summary, so folks leave a meeting with us with a customized reference knowing all of their questions have been answered. We don't hand them the codes, but provide links to our development code on the internet with a synopsis of where they'll find particular types of information. Again, this also goes back to the fill-in-the-blank form that serves to summarize how our regs will apply to their particular project.

    What kind of meetings do you set up and who is involved?(Chamber of Commerce,etc)
    Our Development Review Committee meeting includes the city engineer, building official, public works director, fire marshal, electric utility rep and our economic development director. Depending on the nature of the project, we may omit or add someone else. I like having our ED director present because it helps him understand the procedures and be more pro-active on his side of things.

    How involved are your elected officials in the process?
    If it doesn't involve a zoning change or something similar, they are out of the process. Again, this goes back to predictability and keeping the politics out of it. We do provide them a commercial building report describing new businesses coming in, but we don't do that until plans are substantially complete & approved.

    How do you go about promoting a business friendly environment to compete with the next town over? .
    I don't like poo-pooing the town next door, as I find that counterproductive to regional efforts. Our ED director takes care of a lot of these aspects. The big thing is simply being responsive and knowing how to put the city's best foot forward. I can talk demographics, socio-economics, catchment areas, etc to entice a project if needed. Part of how we promote is including testimonials from business owners in the city that have been through our process in our packets. Our ED maintains a list of business owners that a potential business can contact that are willing to discuss their experiences in the city, etc.

    My city is perceived as "business friendly" despite our somewhat strict regulations simply because we are easy to work with, helpful and perhaps most importantly, available & responsive.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Thank you this is very helpful

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    My experience is that most communities do not have a procedure, or at least a comprehensive one. If the business talks with the planner they may get information about zoning. If they talk with the building inspector they will get information on inspections. If they talk with the Chamber of Commerce they may get a membership application. If they talk with the economic development organization they may get information on incentives. Very few places have even given thought to how they could bundle all of the informaiton a business might want to know. In the best of my experiences, I worked in a community where the planner and I , sometimes with the public works director, would meet with a business or developer as soon as they called any of us. Sitting down together, we could all share the information we had.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    In the best of my experiences, I worked in a community where the planner and I , sometimes with the public works director, would meet with a business or developer as soon as they called any of us. Sitting down together, we could all share the information we had.
    This is the approach I try to utilize in my community. When we have a prospective business/project express interest, I always offer to set up a pre-development meeting with representatives from my office (planning & ED), public works, fire, police, wastewater, water, and building.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jswanek's avatar
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    If we're talking about occupancy of an older space, the focus should be on how out-of-date that space might be for the intended use. Are the bathrooms ADA compliant? Asbestos in the insulation? Exits meet CURRENT fire codes? Earthquake standards met?

    Keep in mind that someone claiming a retail use (wine sales, for example) could morph it into a cafe within three months. Another selling childrens' book could start classes without telling you. An internet cafe will have live music in no time. An incense shop will start fortune-telling, or new age church services with 50 chairs crammed into one back room.

    Are these the uses you thought you were approving?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Honestly 10k sqft of retail space does not move the needle in my community.

    I was a believer of the "packet of info" but their are so many requirements that depend on the situation all it did was confuse the prospect rather than helped the process. Plus the next questions is always, "please tell me what I need to know. I don't have time to read this."

    I will qualify the prospect and see where they are in the process, what their intended uses is and what is their real estate needs. Once I know this then I will figure out who they need to talk with and determine how best for them to move through the process. 10k of retail is never something I waste an elected officials time with unless they are politically connected. The only time I get elected officials involved is if the company will generate controversy, they require an incentive or they are connected.

    The term business friendly is as over used as the community is centrally located and has a great quality of life. Who is going to promote we have a 3 year entitlement process, we are in the middle of nowhere and the community is generally a shit hole crawling with meth heads and hookers. Business friendly can mean the development process or it can mean how quickly a community will participate with incentives or other inducements. You cannot sell your community like a car dealer sells a Honda. The most successful communities knows that a company is looking to see where will they be the most successful and build their case based upon enhanced profitability, through access to workforce, capital, transportation, suppliers or customers.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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