Mark Arcobasso trekked from office to office to fill out the paperwork for his business license, food and liquor licenses and tax information when he opened Domenico’s Restaurant in Jefferson City 15 years ago.
His other option was to fill out all of the forms and send them through snail mail.
And up until last Tuesday, aspiring business owners had to hop from Web site to Web site to fulfill agency requirements.
That process is over now that Gov. Matt Blunt and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced the launch of the Missouri Business Portal Web site. Business.mo.gov contains links to research, forms, applications and offices that people interested in starting a business may find useful.
The site was created through a collaboration of the Secretary of State, the Department of Economic Development, the Department of Revenue, the Small Business Development Centers and other state organizations.
“When you are starting a new business, there are a lot pieces to the puzzle to fit together,” Blunt spokeswoman Jessica Robinson said. “It was a collaborative effort to make online resources more accessible and easily accessible.”
She said there are several steps and components that require people to go to more than one agency. Business Portal was designed to make it easier for small businesses.
Each year, 43,600 new jobs are created in Missouri, and 93 percent are created by small businesses, said Chris Bouchard, associate state director of the Missouri Small Business Development center and member of the Business Portal’s steering committee.
The Web site now only offers links to the different offices and lists steps in the process, which Bouchard said is in the first of three phases. He declined to give specific details about the other phases.
“Ultimately, it will be a one-stop place and will be more proactive,” Bouchard said.
The Web site organizes information into four categories: research, register, maintain and resources. It’s designed to help guide businesses “from the cradle to the grave,” Arcobasso said.
Entrepreneurs can find information about their business area and find help with writing a business plan in the site’s research section. A step-by-step register section contains links to offices and forms that must be completed at the state and local levels. The maintain section links to yearly registrations and filings, tax issues and concerns, employee information and how to close a business. The resources section provides links about raising money, growing the business and dealing with employee concerns.
“I wish it was around 15 years ago,” Arcobasso said. “It would have saved a lot of legwork. It won’t do the work for you, but it will get you organized.”