Carson City business leaders embrace idea for resource center
Carson City officials got a warm reception this past week when they presented plans for a Business Resource Center that would consolidate services and streamline the process for starting a business, while supporting new and existing businesses.
“We have to help,” said Bob Fredlund of Coldwell Banker and Nevada Style Real Estate Services. He said too often people with a business idea “come in here, find out that they have to do too much. It’s overwhelming and they leave pretty quick. They just see a big wall.”
“I like the idea,” said Mark Beauchamp of Shaheen Beauchamp Builders. He said he and partner Jeff Shaheen “deal with larger corporations that are more sophisticated.”
He agreed with Fredlund the smaller businesses need help negotiating the permitting, planning and licensing processes.
City Manager Larry Werner and Business Development Director Joe McCarthy told the group the proposal is much more than planning and permitting.
“This is not just a one-stop-shop,” said McCarthy. “This is a resource center where someone can engage with the businessman.”
He said that means bringing in all of the city departments needed to get a business running, the Nevada Secretary of State’s office which licenses and registers businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Nevada Business Connections, Northern Nevada Development Authority and other community organizations including Western Nevada College and University of Nevada, Reno.
It would help direct potential business owners to financial, marketing and legal resources as well as communications and media support.
The plan is to house all of those functions in one place – the former Fireside Inn downtown, adjacent to City Hall on Proctor Street. That building was recently vacated by the state Commission on Economic Development.
Werner told them the purpose of the meeting Wednesday was to see if business leaders think the center is something the city should do.
He said he plans to hold at least one more round table – probably with retailers – to further study the idea.
But the plan is definitely on the fast track. McCarthy’s prospectus spelling it out calls for the Business Resource Center to open for business August 1.
Those at the meeting made it clear they fully support the idea to create a full scale customer service center to not only help new businesses wade through the permitting and other official processes but to provide help developing their business plan and connecting with others who can help in the community.
But they had a few suggestions as well.
Stan Jones, owner of The Purple Avocado gift shop on Curry Street, told Werner to reduce the bureaucracy, not increase it with more checklists and requirements.
Fredlund said what the individual trying to start his or her first business needs is help figuring out all the steps to be taken and what order they must be done in.
Beauchamp said people may have great ideas but no idea how to turn that idea into a business.
“There needs to be some individual who helps eliminate hurdles,” he said, adding that a small business entrepreneur shouldn’t have to hire an architect to do a simple plan.
He said the permit process is “too onerous” and that small business owners need, in effect, an ombudsman to help them through it.
“Their outlook on the process has to be entrepreneurial, not bureaucratic,” said Shaheen.