In many ways, Charlotte exemplifies the “new South”: prosperous, progressive, probusiness. It’s a growing city, and entrepreneurial opportunities are growing with it. But too often, government gets in the way through anachronistic and anticompetitive regulations, often enforced by bureaucrats who do not share the city’s entrepreneurial spirit.
At a time when welfare reform emphasizes the transition from public assistance to work, it is vital that government makes sure that all Americans have the opportunity to earn an honest living, free from arbitrary or excessive government regulation. Unfortunately, regulatory barriers imposed by every level of government hamper the creation of new enterprises. Most of the restrictions on entry are erected at the state and local level, in the form of occupational and business licensing laws, fees, and zoning requirements. They inflict their greatest burden on people with the fewest skills and resources, disproportionately minorities and the poor.
Excessive regulation is often self-defeating: It drives businesses underground outside the reach of both taxation and regulation. Our analysis-focusing on the regulatory climate in general and on specific entry-level businesses in particular-reveals that although Charlotte is far from the most over-regulated city, too many barriers to entry-level entrepreneurship exist at both the state and local level.