Dan King
Dan King · June 13, 2023

FORT WORTH, TexasA new report, released today, provides six key policy recommendations for city officials in Fort Worth on how to make it cheaper, faster, and simpler to start a small business. The findings of the report, conducted as part of the Institute for Justice’s (IJ) Cities Work initiative, were presented before the Small Business Task Force, and copies of the report were provided to city officials. 

“Our research and conversations with small business owners found that entrepreneurs in Fort Worth face many obstacles to getting their business off the ground,” said IJ Assistant Director of Activism Jennifer McDonald. “The good news is we identified straight-forward reforms to improve the process and city officials are committed to increasing access to entrepreneurship. Together, we will make it cheaper, faster and simpler for all Fort Worthians to achieve the American Dream.”  

The report points to six main reforms Fort Worth city officials can make: 

  1. Continue building out the city’s one-stop shop website to guide entrepreneurs through the startup process, 
  1. Eliminate or consolidate unnecessary permits and other paperwork, 
  1. Bring clarity and transparency to the inspection process, 
  1. Reduce fees and other compliance costs, 
  1. Increase access to city resources and staff, and 
  1. Increase cross-training for city employees across different departments. 

The research was conducted over several months and included interviews with more than 40 entrepreneurs. In addition to conversations with small business owners, researchers also studied the city’s regulatory environment and other obstacles that stand in the way of small business owners achieving their dreams.  

Several business owners interviewed for the report explained their difficulties with navigating the current process. 

“No one would help us. We applied for the wrong permit and got denied,” said one business owner. “When I called up, there was no one to help me. I had to guess what the correct [permit] was because they denied us but didn’t tell me what the correct permit was.”  

One industry the report specifically focused on was the restaurant industry. In order to start a restaurant in Fort Worth, owners must pay 21 different fees, interact with nine different agencies, attend eight in-person meetings, fill out 18 different forms, and complete 63 different steps. All in all, the cost for government permission just to have a chance to start a restaurant comes in at $4,250.  

“I am burnt out. My [shop] is finally open and now I want to shut down,” said another of the business owners interviewed in the report. “It took everything out of me.” 

“Cities Work” is an initiative of IJ, which partners with city leaders across the country to make it cheaper, faster, and simpler to start businesses. IJ is a national public interest law firm that advocates for the economic liberty rights of individuals throughout the country.  Cities Work is funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.