Easy permit process can spur growth

November 20th, 2014

News Coverage:

Easy permit process can spur growth

Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 11:00 pm | Updated: 6:58 am, Thu Nov 20, 2014.

By Jacob Klopfenstein

FORT WAYNE — Northeast Indiana government officials received awards Wednesday for their work in streamlining the business permit process.

Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership spearheaded the Permitting Excellence Coalition, a group established this year of nine jurisdictions including the city of Auburn, DeKalb County, LaGrange County, city of Angola and Allen County, among others.

High Performance Government Network helped guide government officials participating in the coalition. HPG Network President Ryan Chasey outlined four areas the coalition prioritized for business permits: a standardized format, providing step-by-step details for businesses, improving customer service and creating a collaborative infrastructure.

“At the beginning, we noticed we have a wealth of talent of people working in these areas,” Chasey said. “What was not there was a way to share knowledge between them.”

Regional Partnership President and CEO John Sampson said administering permits correctly is important for economic development in the area.

“When you look at other communities, there aren’t a lot doing better than this area in permit excellence,” Sampson said.

For example, Sampson said, it can take wireless providers up to two years to build one cellular tower. Of those two years, one often is spent applying for permits and waiting on administration, he said. Though it would be a humble beginning, if one such tower goes up in 18 months, it’s still an improvement, he said.

Sampson said many economic development projects in northeast Indiana are expansions of businesses that are already here. He said the permitting coalition came about because construction firms were frustrated by the lack of a consistent system in the area.

At a luncheon Wednesday in Fort Wayne, representatives from participating areas received plaques they could display in their offices to serve as visual signs of their commitment to the initiative.

Sampson said the coalition has been a good start, but the groups need to keep working to figure out how to make the process really effective. He said the regional partnership is looking at how to continue the momentum and grow the number of people involved.

“This really matters to the people who aren’t in the room today,” Sampson said. “We’re changing the way the economy works.”