It’s Christmas come early! Earlier this week, Mayor Lightfoot gave an early present to small business owners outside of the Loop. She released a plan to streamline small business licensing, which would open five regional centers to help with licensing issues. Currently, these matters can only be handled downtown at the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) office in City Hall. The BACP provides one-on-one meetings with a business consultant to help business owners fill out license applications and answer any questions they may have. Mayor Lightfoot’s proposal would make these services more accessible to business owners across the city. She did not provide exact locations for the satellite locations, but stated that she’s seeking partnerships and input from local community groups.

Mayor Lightfoot also announced an initiative that would allow business owners seeking a business license to apply for an on-premise “Open” sign at the same time. The current approval process requires the owner to apply for a permit through the Department of Buildings, a bureaucratic imbroglio requiring a 42-page process document to explain. All this just to tell passersby that your business is open! The Mayor’s “Fast-Track Business Signs Initiative” would cut much of this red tape.

Her proposal does not apply to signs larger than 16 square feet or signs where any portion would hang over a public way. Permits for these signs must still be applied for through the Department of Buildings.

While the Mayor’s plans will make licensing and permitting more convenient and accessible, it can still be overwhelming. The City of Chicago supplies a variety of resources to small business owners (the Small Business Development Center is one of our favorites), but it always helps to have someone by your side through the whole process. If you have a question or want to start a business within city limits, please contact us for a free consultation.