Business Brief: Owning A Small Business Can Be Confusing. Jacksonville Wants To Help.

Jul 24, 2017

The help sessions are held in the city's Ed Ball Building downtown.
Credit Downtown Vision Inc

The city of Jacksonville is launching a program to help small-business owners wade through city permitting and other pitfalls.


Modern Cities co-founder Mike Field said the help sessions are helping lead entrepreneurs through what can be a confusing maze of regulations. The response to the pilot program has been “overwhelming,” he said.

Field said the need for business help was apparent this month when the nearly decade-old Bold City Brewery was temporarily shuttered after a visit from the fire marshal.

“You may know how to make great beer, but you have no idea what zoning regulations are all about,” Field said.

The new twice-monthly sessions are designed to help people get their ducks in a row before costly or embarrassing episodes halt their business.

Field said the program signals a departure from the city’s previous laser focus on recruiting larger businesses, rather than helping existing ones.

“The city has been really great with induced growth, such as attracting companies like Amazon and Macquarie, which create great employment centers,” he said. “What they haven’t been focusing on is how to help organic growth from within. The majority of the businesses in our country are owned by small-business owners, and they make up the majority of the jobs.”

He said mega cities like New York have entire departments dedicated to helping businesses comply with regulations, and Jacksonville could be moving in that direction if the new program takes off.

For more information on scheduling an appointment for a small-business help session with the city of Jacksonville, visit the city’s Small Business Help page.

Mike Field is cofounder of Modern Cities.

Contact WJCT News Director Jessica Palombo at jpalombo@wjct.org, 904-358-6315, or on Twitter at @JessicaPubRadio