Louisiana launches website to streamline business startups

    In addition to reading newspapers, shopping, looking up directions, paying their bills and doing just about anything else on the Internet, Louisiana residents can now complete the legal steps required to start a business online.

    Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler today unveiled a $1.8 million revamp of the state’s GeauxBIZ.com website, transforming it into a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs to register their business by combining the resources of the Secretary of State, Department of Revenue and the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

    “This is streamlining government and cutting through the red tape,” Schedler said at a press event today to announce the launch.

    Schedler gestured around the lobby of the Secretary of State Commercial Division and added, “Seventy-five percent of people can do online what they used to have to come to this office to do.”

    Previously, to register for a business name, revenue number and an unemployment insurance tax account number, business owners had to visit three separate state offices in person to file their paperwork. Now they can do it all digitally.

    The idea was inspired by similar online systems in Utah and South Carolina. Louisiana Workforce Commission Executive Director Curt Eysink said it was a “no-brainer” when he was presented with a proposal to create a Louisiana website like the ones used by those states.

    State Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield said 17,000 people went through the business startup process last year, all of whom could use GeaxBIZ.com now to complete their registration. The website also gives contact information for other required permits and support for already existing businesses.

    “This is not the first integration of these departments,” Eysink said. “We have done it before for fraud checking services, but this is really the first public-facing integration.”

    GeauxBIZ.com was first launched in 2009 to provide easy access to information about starting a business. The revamp took two years of reworking the digital infrastructure between the three departments with the goal of becoming a hub for a business owner’s relationship with the state.

    Secretary of State spokeswoman Meg Casper said that while the project cost $1.8 million to complete, it has already shifted some of the department’s workload and will hopefully save money over time.

    Schedler said he hopes to include other agencies and entities to GeauxBIZ.com like the Fire Marshal, Louisiana Economic Development and various chambers of commerce to “really make it a one-stop shop.”

    However, there aren’t any solid plans yet to accomplish that task. The updated website got a soft launch last week. While most users were satisfied with the new GeauxBIZ.com, any complaints were taken into account and are being looked over, Schedler said.

    Deanna Narveson  

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