Dan King
Dan King · December 8, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Today, the Institute for Justice (IJ) announced it has partnered with Kansas City to study the regulatory barriers facing small business owners and entrepreneurs in the city, and to make recommendations on how the process can be streamlined. As part of its Cities Work initiative, IJ will be working with the city’s KC BizCare office, local officials, and business owners to form a small business task force, which will study the city’s regulatory environment and recommend reforms to City Council. 

“We’re very excited to work with entrepreneurs, city staff, and elected officials in Kansas City to learn about the barriers that prevent people from successfully starting small businesses in the city, and to formulate policy recommendations that will make it easier for would-be entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses moving forward,” said IJ Assistant Director of Activism Jennifer McDonald, who leads the project. “Everybody has the right to earn an honest living doing what they love, and we look forward to making it cheaper, faster and simpler for Kansas City residents to do so.” 

IJ’s Cities Work team will learn from Kansas City entrepreneurs’ personal stories and study the regulatory environment that exists for small businesses in Kansas City. The team will work with the small business task force to identify regulatory hurdles imposed by local government and present policy recommendations to City Council to rectify barriers. 

Through its Cities Work project, IJ has worked with more than 230 entrepreneurs in cities throughout the country to learn about the hurdles they face in starting businesses. Some barriers that have been identified in other cities include duplicative or unnecessary paperwork, hefty license and permit fees, complex bureaucratic processes that are often unrelated to public health and safety, and costly delays due to inefficient permitting processes. These barriers often disproportionately impact minority entrepreneurs and those of modest means, making entrepreneurship inaccessible to many in communities most in need of economic growth.  

In a 2022 report, IJ studied the work that goes into opening various types of businesses in 20 cities around the country. For example, the average cost to open a restaurant is $5,300 in fees for permits and licenses, and opening a barbershop requires entrepreneurs to, on average, complete 55 regulatory steps and interact with eight different government agencies. 

“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 by identifying and rectifying regulatory barriers to entrepreneurship. IJ is a national public interest law firm that advocates for entrepreneurs throughout the country. Cities Work is funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.