Why Did it Take this Chicago Entrepreneur a Year to Start a Business?

When Rebecca Mueller graduated from fashion school, she was determined to stay in Chicago rather than follow many of her peers to what seemed like more business-friendly cities. She purchased a 25-foot truck and built her own mobile boutique, North & Hudson. When she went to City Hall in April 2015 to obtain a peddlers’ license, she did not expect that it would be over a year before her business could start selling to the public. Mueller wrote in an op-ed to Crain’s Chicago Business:

“Imagine my disappointment when the city denied my application, saying that peddlers can’t stop and park to serve customers. The city assured me that they were working on a solution. However, in the coming months, my calls to the city were met with few answers and no solutions.”

Mueller teamed up with the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship to try and speed up the process. The lawyers at the Clinic informed her that Chicago already had something called the emerging business permit, which was designed to help unique small businesses like hers. Yet for some reason, the city had only issued one emerging business permit since it was created in 2012.

North & Hudson finally opened for business last week. Mueller told Crain’s:

“While I’m thrilled to be licensed now, I would be remiss if I didn’t call attention to an opportunity that is being squandered. The emerging business permit has great potential, but it only works if it is actually used. Not every innovative business has a law clinic on its side or a year’s worth of patience and savings.”

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