The application period for this challenge is now closed

  • Governer Partner :City of Norfolk
  • Department :Department of Economic Development
  • Category :CRM / application management, Digitization, Mobile App, Process Improvement, Resident Engagement

Project Summary

Improved portal for new and growing businesses to access city resources.

Challenge Details

How might we streamline the process of starting and growing a business in Norfolk so that the business resources are more accessible and easy to navigate for everyone seeking to create economic growth through business ownership?

We seek to create an online portal to assist the small business community in knowing about and utilizing resources available through the city and other organizations in Norfolk’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. Many residents are budding entrepreneurs who work full-time jobs and are unable to contact City staff during normal business hours. Many of these entrepreneurs are working in their businesses after hours and late at night in an effort to achieve their business goals.

As the City Of Norfolk works to become the most Small Business friendly city, we want to ensure that business resources are easily accessible for everyone via an online portal.

The Department of Economic Development current manages the Small Business Initiative which supports the start and growth of Norfolk’s Small Businesses. We accomplish this through trainings, empowerment events and one-on-one assistance to current and aspiring entrepreneurs. In partnership with the Department of planning, we have a business concierge service that helps entrepreneurs navigate City process when they’re seeking a business license, permits, zoning or other related needs.

What is the current state of your process?

Currently, there are several departments that a current or aspiring entrepreneur could contact to get their business questions answered. Many of the common departments are Economic Development, Planning, Purchasing, Real Estate and the Commissioner of the Revenue. Each of these departments has a unique service that they offer to businesses and when a business needs general assistance, they don’t have the information needed to properly help.
This causes frustration for entrepreneurs and this can often be a hindrance for residents who are in the idea or start-up stage of business.

What pain points do your staff and/or residents experience?

Our residents
Addressing this pain point would allow the City to have a more strategic approach to supporting the small business community by making many of common resources (how to start a business, how to obtain a business license, how to do business with the City) easily available for residents. This would free up City staff who work with small businesses to focus on deeper issues that are important to Norfolk entrepreneurs.

Our primary outcome would be to have one central location where business owners that receive the assistance and resources they need for their business in the City of Norfolk.

In addition to serving as a portal for the business community, this tool could also serve as a space where City staff can interface with other staff who are also providing services to the same community of entrepreneurs.