When Lassiter initially met with the regulatory heads, they were considering a model similar to the city of Clermont, Ohio, which guarantees licensing and approval in a matter of days.
The process ultimately took on the look of a roundtable discussion, with all of the decision-makers getting together. After the EDP is contacted by a business prospect, Chamber of Commerce Director Paula Fowler calls together a group that includes representatives from the city, Planning and Zoning, the county building inspector, the fire marshal and the health department.
Stansbury said the idea is not to guarantee a time frame for approval, but rather to remove the headaches that can discourage business owners.
“I think they have made a nice simple system that allows an individual to talk to us about what their needs are,” Stansbury said. “Where a big industrial or commercial prospect would have teams of people to deal with a lot of these issues, the small business doesn’t have those resources. They don’t have to waste any effort, and that’s what speeds things up.”
New business owners pleased
Ann Clay Harris, owner of A and L Accessories, which features jewelry and accessories, has had the quickest turnaround from expressing interest to being in business.
Harris said she had been operating the business from home for the last eight years and had always wanted to open her own store.
On June 21, Harris saw space for rent on Main Street while driving. After meeting with the property manager the next day, she contacted Fowler and was able to have a fast track meeting the same week.
Harris signed the lease after the meeting and, 17 days after spotting the vacant storefront, opened her business.
Harris’ husband, Joey Harris, who is plant manager at Denyo, was also at the table for the meetings and came away impressed by what he saw.
“It was great how everybody in the room was playing off one another and coming up with questions for one another to answer,” Harris said. “If you met with each one individually, you could see how that could get confusing for everyone involved. It is only going to get better the more they do it.”
Ann Clay Harris is a Danville native, but she said the process will be even more of an asset to business prospects from out of town.
“I’ve lived here all my life, and I was familiar with all of the people who I was going to have to talk to,” Harris said. “I don’t know how anyone who wasn’t would know all of the places they have to go and people they have to talk to.”
Beer Engine owner Brian Holton of Stanford was less familiar with the regulatory players.
When Danville went wet, Holton saw the opportunity to turn his home-brewing hobby into a new occupation. Because of the nature of his business, he had a number of questions that needed answering.
“I had never opened a business, so I had never dealt with any of those departments in any way,” Holton said. “We all went to the building and looked at it together, so I got all of my questions answered at the same time.”