Plan to streamline business-startup paperwork advances in Senate

From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD – A plan that could make it easier to open a business in Illinois is moving through the state Senate. The legislation would require the state to put all permit and license applications online, on one centralized website.

“If you want to open a business in Illinois, we should be making it easier for you. Instead we make you jump through hoops,” said Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, the measure’s sponsor. “In the 21st century, entrepreneurs should be able to find every state form they need online, in one place.”

Right now, if business owners need more than one license or permit, they may have to visit several different state and local government websites and fill out forms both on paper and online. To see if they qualify for any economic development programs, they have to contact even more state agencies. Many other states do better, putting all of these forms and all of this information in one place.

The new website would be operated by the state’s Department of Commerce and Opportunity. The agency would be required to update the site at least once every year. Under the current system, potential business owners are often forced to struggle with broken links and hard-to-navigate, out-of-date state websites.

Morrison’s plan was inspired in part by the state of New York’s business license website: http://licensecenter.ny.gov/business-licenses.

Under New York’s system, entrepreneurs start by selecting the type of business they would like to open. They then answer a series of questions. When they finish, they are provided with links to all of the forms they need to fill out and any additional information they requested.

Morrison’s plan to create a centralized licensing and permitting website is Senate Bill 659. Her legislation to put all applications online is Senate Bill 1921. Both measures passed the Commerce and Economic Development Committee and will now move to the full Senate.

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