$10 million in federal pandemic money sought for online ‘business support’ portal

BEA says site could attract new small businesses to New Hampshire
Conn Biz Portal
The Department of Business and Economic Affairs wants to use $10 million in federal pandemic money to create a one-stop online portal for people starting new businesses. Connecticut’s currently is the only one among the New England states. (Screenshot)

Starting a new business in New Hampshire takes vision and often a financial risk. It also requires a lot of time navigating state agency websites, registering a business, obtaining permits, or securing licenses.

The Department of Business and Economic Affairs is seeking to use $10 million in federal pandemic money to develop an online “business support” portal it says could attract new small businesses to the state. The Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee is scheduled to take up the request Friday.

Alexander Fries, spokesman for the department, said the pandemic’s shutdowns have led to an interest in “digital solutions.” For some, that means working remotely or grocery shopping online. The online portal is intended to make it easier for people starting a small business to understand and navigate the state requirements, from applying for permits to registering new employees and trademark names.

In his request to the committee, Commissioner Taylor Caswell said states that have developed an online portal have seen small businesses grow 30 percent faster than those without it. State agencies in those states have seen a 15 to 25 percent drop in costs associated with small business startups.

Connecticut is the only New England state with a one-stop business portal, Fries said.

The initiative began with a study. “What are our services currently and is there an opportunity to provide improvements and lower that burden for small businesses?” Fries said. “How can the government help small businesses?”

The project, which includes the Department of Information Technology among other state agencies, will be rolled out in stages, with the first phase expected within the next four months, he said. The Executive Council must also approve Caswell’s request.

This story was originally produced by the NH Bulletin, an independent local newsroom that allows NH Business Review and other outlets to republish its reporting.

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