The 20 Cities Studied
Starting a business is already an expensive endeavor, but local regulations pile on additional costs.
- For example, entrepreneurs who want to start a restaurant in the 20 cities surveyed must pay, on average, more than $5,300 in fees for permits and licenses.
- To start a barbershop, applicants must pay, on average, 13 different fees to agency officials just to get up and running.
Complying with local rules consumes not just capital, but also an entrepreneur’s valuable time.
- For example, regulations are often opaque, and on average, cities do a poor job of creating comprehensive portals— one-stop shops—that give entrepreneurs reliable step-by-step guides on how to navigate and quickly comply with rules. None of the cities studied meet all five of the one-stop shop criteria measured. Birmingham and Des Moines do not meet any of the criteria. Eight cities—Boise, Boston, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Antonio, Seattle, and St. Louis—only meet one or two.
- Home-based businesses that require special zoning approval from government must not only obtain a time-consuming permit— often after enduring a public hearing—but also must interact with, on average, nearly six different agencies before being allowed to open.
Starting a business involves navigating complex bureaucratic processes that are often unrelated to public health and safety.
- For example, to open a barbershop in the 20 cities surveyed, an entrepreneur must complete, on average, 55 steps with eight different government agencies involved in the process. Many of these steps have little to do with sanitation or public safety, but still serve to trap aspiring barbers in a complex maze of rules and restrictions.
- Even though they do not operate out of brick-and-mortar space, applicants for food truck licenses and permits must complete, on average, 35 steps with 11 forms and seven agencies involved in the process.