Everyone has the right to earn an honest living, and city officials want to ensure their constituents can do exactly that: pursue their small business dreams while contributing to the local economy. But due to regulatory roadblocks, high fees, and time-consuming permitting and licensing processes, many entrepreneurs struggle to make their dreams a reality.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Cities Work is the Institute for Justice’s non-partisan regulatory consulting initiative committed to increasing economic opportunity and fostering entrepreneurship in cities across the country. We partner with cities to make it cheaper, faster, and simpler to start a small business—all free of charge.
We approach our work from the entrepreneur’s perspective, letting their experiences guide our work. Through working directly with relevant stakeholders – including prospective and current small business owners, research institutions, city officials, regulators, and economic development organizations – we identify the city’s real-world hurdles to starting a small business and offer comprehensive regulatory reform strategies based on these findings.
Cities Work is founded on collaboration with city councils. Every city is unique, so we offer tailored programming to match what your city needs.
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Cities Work consults and collaborates closely with city officials throughout the nation. Our nonpartisan, evidence-based city reform boosts these cities’ economic mobility through empowering entrepreneurs.
You shouldn’t need a law degree to start the small business of your dreams. But too often, entrepreneurs struggle with local regulatory burdens, finding themselves trapped by high fees, long wait times, and complex paperwork. These burdens amount to a death by a thousand cuts, unless aspiring business owners can successfully navigate them before reaching opening day. Local officials must make it cheaper, faster, and simpler for entrepreneurs to start a business—and this report presents specific recommendations to make those needed changes.
In cities across the country, the path for getting a business up and running is riddled with steep costs, frustrating delays, and confusing steps. Not only must entrepreneurs satisfy a tangled web of regulatory requirements, but they also must often do so without receiving clear guidance from local officials. Red tape on the books and officials’ poor communication and lack of transparency all contribute to the hurdles small businesses face from local government.
To better understand the challenges small businesses face and to offer recommendations, we analyzed the codes of 20 large to mid-sized cities, interviewed entrepreneurs from across the country, and mapped out the real-world process of starting five common business types from the entrepreneur’s perspective.
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Get in touch with our team and learn more about what Cities Work can do for your city.
Assistant Director of Activism Special Projects
Assistant Director of Activism
Activism Policy Associate
City Policy Assistant