Connecticut officials have launched a $12 million digital platform to make it easier for new business to find the start-up information they need, and to aid existing businesses in their dealings with state government.
Work on the new online portal was underway for six months before it debuted last weekend, according to Josh Geballe, the state’s Department of Administrative Services commissioner and chief operating officer. Geballe said although the website is online, upgrades will continue into early next year.
“There will be a lot of additional functionality added in the coming months and most of that should be live by the end of the year,” Geballe said, adding that the focus of the site for the first few months will be helping new businesses. “The message we want to send out is that if you’re starting a business in Connecticut, this will be the place to go.”
As users make their way through the new web portal, he said, a customized checklist is created of different agencies involved and online links to them. The goal, Geballe said, is for state government to finally deliver on a promise that administrations have made at least as far back as John Rowland’s first term as governor: A one-stop online location for Connecticut businesses.
“It’s a term that has been oft-repeated, but not well executed,” Geballe said. “The difference is that this is a governor who understands technology and campaigned that he wants to modernize it and make it more responsive.”
Gov. Ned Lamont said it has been his administration’s priority “from day one to get more services online and create a true digital government where our business owners can spend time online – not in line.”
“Our economy depends on us continuing to lead the way with new technology to attract the best talent and minds in the country,” Lamont said. “Our citizens expect us to work across agencies so residents can interact with one seamless government – not siloed agencies. I look forward to seeing this program and our business community in Connecticut grow to become even stronger.”
Lamont said an increase of people buying in homes in Connecticut, particularly from New York state, makes access to this information online critical.
“I believe what we are seeing is a solid trend,” he said. “Our phones are ringing off the from people wanting to move here. People have seen the benefits of living and working in small cities and I think that will continue.”
Geballe said business leaders were consulted in developing the new web portal about what challenges they face in dealing with state government “and (we) built the service based on their feedback.”
“Our businesses expect us to serve them where they are – not the other way around,” he said. “Business owners and citizens alike think of our government as one entity – not siloed agencies – and they expect us to be working together.”
Geballe said helping businesses is critical, especially considering how the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc upon their operations.
“Amazingly, there are over 1,000 businesses that have formed between April and June,” he said.
But Geballe, asked how much additional revenue might flow into the state’s coffers as a result of the new portal, declined to offer a projection.
“The sky’s the limit,” he said.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said her offic, which is responsible for overseeing the registering of businesses, said fees coming from that activity typically come in at $30 million annually.
One of those business is Hair by Amber. Owner Amber Cancelliere travels to people’s homes to give haircuts, and said her Essex-based business has a steady stream of clients.
“I had worked in the beauty business for 12 years, but had never owned my own business,” she said. “I’m glad the state has come up with something like this because when I was researching what I need to do, I didn’t know where I had to go online.”