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## Entrepreneurs in Kansas City, Missouri: Overcoming Barriers to Small Business Entry

Entrepreneurs in Kansas City, Missouri, face a higher cost of entry to the world of small business than their peers in St. Louis ÔÇö or even just across the state line in Kansas City, Kansas, said Jennifer McDonald.

ÔÇ£We look at things like how expensive it is to start a business, how complicated it is, how long the process takes, and what we can do to streamline that process, make it more accessible, more affordable,ÔÇØ said McDonald, project leader for a group called Cities Work that has partnered with the KCMO Small Business Task Force and KC BizCare to help reduce barriers to entrepreneurship.

ÔÇ£So that everybody can realize their dreams of starting a small business,ÔÇØ she explained.

Cities Work ÔÇö an initiative by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice and funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation ÔÇö presented its Small Business Insights and Policy Recommendation Report for Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday during a public, community event at Rochester Brewing and Roasting Company.

The group partners with cities free of charge to help them identify and then rectify some of the biggest barriers in the regulatory space that entrepreneurs face, according to McDonald, who also serves as assistant director of activism at Institute for Justice. She and other project members researched regulations and interviewed city officials and entrepreneurs to generate their findings.

According to a summary of the report ÔÇö which was commissioned by the task force ÔÇö Kansas City is known for its abundance of resources to help small businesses owners, but ÔÇ£this support cannot address a root barrier to entry that nonetheless exists: overly burdensome regulations that make it difficult to start a business.ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£Often, regulatory barriers make the business startup process so expensive and complex that only those with the most resources are able to overcome them ÔÇö effectively blocking access to entrepreneurship for people from modest backgrounds and difficult circumstances.ÔÇØ

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Within the report, the Cities Work team detailed eight reform recommendations based on its findings:

1. Reduce compliance costs to entrepreneurs;
2. Eliminate, consolidate, and simplify permits, licenses, and their respective requirements to reduce confusion and resource consumption for both the entrepreneur and the city;
3. Bring clarity and accountability into the inspection process both to prepare applicants and inspectors for the application and to reduce the level of subjectivity in inspections;
4. Remove or address inefficient or confusing department processes and ordinances through a ÔÇ£spring cleaningÔÇØ efficiency ordinance;
5. Clarify the change of occupancy and change of use processes by publishing a visual chart of the process and engaging with entrepreneurs through an educational outreach campaign;
6. Continue building out the cityÔÇÖs one-stop shop and online tools for entrepreneurs.
7. Increase access to city resources and staff; and
8. Empower city employees to help entrepreneurs and improve communication with entrepreneurs.

ÔÇ£We are making (these recommendations) with the hope that the Small Business Task Force will consider working with the city council to get some of those things implemented to pave the way towards small business ownership for everybody,ÔÇØ McDonald explained.

After seeing the recommendations, the task force has already drafted three ordinances to help cut red tape and reduce fees for entrepreneurs in the city, said Wes Rogers, Second District Councilman and chair of the task force.

ÔÇ£This city could be better for entrepreneurs and small businesses, and youÔÇÖre gonna see it,ÔÇØ he told the crowd at WednesdayÔÇÖs event.

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