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Thumbs up: New position should make city more business friendly

Sep. 07, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Most politicians and government officials say they are pro-business.

But the devil is in the details, especially when it comes to regulatory issues.

From coal companies seeking permits from the Environmental Protection Agency to a new entrepreneur lining up licenses and inspections for a shop on 3rd Avenue, government has to balance its responsibilities to protect the public with the desire to promote commerce. That can be a difficult juggling act, but the process need not be hostile, unpredictable or mysterious.

In Huntington, a new business services advocate position will hopefully see to that.

Sharon Pell began the new job last week and is taking some time to learn how the city's various departments might interact with a business owner. That orientation includes shadowing employees in the Planning, Finance, Public Works, Inspections and Compliance and Fire departments.

In proposing the new position, Mayor Steve Williams recognized that the city's regulatory requirements can form a difficult and costly maze. It helps no one for a prospective business owner to spend months getting permits and inspections, only to find they face additional zoning issues or other obstacles to opening.

Pell's job will be to explain the whole process for business owners, and hopefully, help anticipate issues that might arise. The goal is to help business people understand what they need to do, what it will cost and how long it will take.

The city has lost many small and large businesses over the past few decades, including some that have relocated not far away. It is critical that the city make itself attractive and helpful to business, and this new position should be a step in the right direction.

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