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Doing Business in Your Town: Navigating the State and Local Government Maze

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Doing Business in Your Town: Navigating the State and Local Government Maze

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: April 16, 2009 Updated: June 13, 2011

Whether you are a start-up or an established business, understanding your obligations with regard to complying with state and local government laws and regulations is an essential part of your small business toolkit.

Many small business owners aren’t aware of the necessary permits and licenses needed to operate legally. Of course, business laws vary from state-to-state, and when you throw county laws into the mix, it can be hard to know where to find the information you need.

Luckily, e-government initiatives have made it very easy to find all the answers you need in one place. There are tools and resources provided by the government - from seminars, to in-person assistance - that can help you start-up, build and operate a successful, and compliant, business.

Small Business Resources and Tools Available in Your Backyard


I am a big advocate of Business.gov and blog regularly about the tools and resources the site provides to help small businesses navigate the maze of government information.

One of the little known assets on the site is Business.gov’s state-by-state 'Small Business Guides'.

Available for all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, these guides connect small business owners with the information they need to start and manage a business in a particular locality - at the state, county and city level.

These guides can be accessed via this interface. From here small business owners can select the state in which they operate and quickly access the following:


  • Starting a Business: The steps it takes to start or expand a business in your state such as business planning, financing, registering a business name, defining a business structure, and so on
  • Operating a Business: Staying on top of tax requirements, employment law, license renewals, and other legalities
  • Training and Assistance: Links to your state’s SBA offices for information on loans, small business centers for minority- and women-owned businesses, and city SCORE offices
  • Cities and Counties: From this page you can access every city and county Web site within any state


You can also find answers to common questions through the 'How Do I?' field, e.g. how do I 'Get a Business License?' and you’ll be connected to information specific to your state.

Each state’s Small Business Guide page also links to other useful Business.gov tools such as 'Permit Me' and a Loans and Grants Tool. These are such great tools that connect you quickly and easily to the information you need to finance your specific business needs and stay on top of all the licenses you need to operate legally.

Small Biz Friendly Cities to Know About

Despite the hard economic times, there are many cities nationwide that are particularly favorable for starting or re-locating a small business. Within the state-by-state Small Business Guide framework, Business.gov has identified some of these cities and has developed 'Featured Cities' Web portals.

From these links you can find resources to start researching your small business idea, develop a business plan, and take advantage of free and low-cost services to get your business off the ground.

You’ll also find information about specific tax credits and small business loans offered through city programs.

Currently Business.gov has 'Featured City' portals for the following:


About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley


articles very useful for local enterprises . hope there will be many who read this article
I like e-government because It helps me not take long to carry out procedures
I am a big advocate of Business.gov and blog regularly about the tools and resources the site provides to help small businesses navigate the maze of government information.
i think have six items of interest pertaining to business regulation requirements at the federal, state and local levels to weigh before you open for business: Licenses, Permits, Environmental Business Regulations, Workplace Safety Regulations, Hiring and Firing Labor Laws and Minimum Wage
i'm agree with make an relationship with goverment , because when you need certificate for your business very easy :).
in difficult times as there are now thousands of businesses went bankrupt, but by no means impossible to open. thank you very useful article
Thank you Caron for helping me this useful information.
This is exactly what is needed for my business. Thank you for helping me this useful information.
Thisindeedisaplanor, butIthinkisnoteasily donethisjob, which requiresmuchmore.
this is what i was looking for!


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