Chamber offers 27 ways Gainesville can improve business relations


Steve Cannon, a diplomat for the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, writes down suggestions from local business owners as part of a breakout discussion about issues the city of Gainesville's small-business owners have with the city, during the Growing Your Small Business in Gainesville event put on by the chamber on May.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Su
Published: Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 3:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 3:57 p.m.

The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce has prepared 27 suggestions for how Gainesville city government can better help small-business growth.

The ideas include:

- Lowering assessment fees and utility costs.

- Eliminating complicated and unnecessary regulations.

- Standardizing policies for more consistent enforcement.

- Providing customer service training to create a problem-solving mind-set.

- Launching a website that includes all of the information a business needs about procedures and resources and establishing a central office to help businesses with regulatory processes and to process payments.

- Reforming zoning to replicate the fast-track process created for Innovation Square.

The Chamber issued a report Thursday with the suggestions that came out of a May 13 forum called by then Mayor-elect Ed Braddy and subsequent emails. More than 130 people attended “Growing Your Small Business: A Conversation with City Leaders” at the Senior Recreation Center, including six current city commissioners, more than a dozen city staffers and numerous business people.

“We look forward to working together with the city of Gainesville to implement these recommendations and help expand small business opportunities throughout our region,” Chamber President and CEO Tim Giuliani said in a news release.

City commissioners were in a meeting Thursday afternoon.

A common theme of the nearly two-hour forum was that city government too often tells small businesses what they can’t do instead of how they can help them start or grow a business.

Commissioner Lauren Poe said at the forum that City Manager Russ Blackburn has instituted customer service training for all city and Gainesville Regional Utilities employees and that Erik Bredfeldt has been tasked with serving as an ombudsman to help businesses through the city permitting process.

The full seven-page report is available at gainesvillechamber.com.

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