September 21, 2020

With the 2021 Initiative, IJ will go beyond simply identifying regulatory barriers. Instead, we’ll work side by side with officials to cut red tape for the business owners of today and the budding entrepreneurs of tomorrow. For an example of how we’ve done this before, look no further than our experience—and success—on the ground in Washington, D.C.

Last year, we launched District Works, a city-based project aimed at making it cheaper, faster, and simpler to start a business in our nation’s capital. This targeted, solution-oriented campaign has already generated important real-world reforms.

Complaints about D.C.’s red tape are nothing new. But to understand the obstacles, we dug into the regulations themselves and created a flowchart walking through the (incredibly complex) process of starting a business in the city. We hosted roundtables with entrepreneurs and used their feedback to present officials with specific, easily implemented ideas for change.

Those efforts paid off. D.C.’s licensing agency updated its dysfunctional website and collapsed licensing requirements, cutting the number of license categories from 128 to 12. Meanwhile, the D.C. Council reformed its cottage food laws, removing a $50,000 income cap and allowing producers of homemade goods to sell online and in stores.

Most recently, D.C.’s licensing agency invited IJ to participate in a working group aimed at identifying barriers to business. Topics ranged from permitting to customer service, and we outlined concrete steps officials could take immediately to ease burdens on entrepreneurs. Eight of our 10 recommendations made it into the group’s final report. We stand ready to help officials turn these proposals into action—and to help other jurisdictions follow in D.C.’s footsteps!

Subscribe to get Liberty & Law magazine direct to your mailbox!

Sign up to receive IJ's bimonthly magazine, Liberty & Law, along with breaking news updates about the Institute for Justice's fight to protect the rights of all Americans.