The City of Santa Cruz and Code for America, a national nonprofit that uses talented web professionals to improve government services, are proud to announce the public launch of OpenCounter, an online small business permitting system.
Designed and developed throughout 2012, OpenCounter reduces the confusion of starting a business by creating an online experience that helps small business owners discover the City forms, fees and time needed to set up shop and apply for them online in a single web session.
The smallest City ever to utilize a Code for America development team, Santa Cruz’s collaboration also saw the development of an open data portal at data.cityofsantacruz.com , new City Hall Wayfinding and newly painted bike lockers downtown.
Code for America partners with local governments to foster civic innovation. Through its Fellowship program, Code for America provides an opportunity for the web generation to give back by embedding developers and designers in city governments to collaborate with municipal leaders. Founded in 2009, Code for America held its inaugural fellowship in 2011. This year Code for America has connected 26 fellows with eight cities nationally. Through the Accelerator program Code for America supports disruptive civic startups, and through the Brigade program Code for America encourages civic participation by organizing local groups of civic technologists to take action in their communities.
Cruzio hosted the Open Counter press conference with over 40 local government officials, leaders of non-profits, and interested business executives on January 9th, 2013 in the Cruzioworks coworking space.
Economic Development Coordinator Peter Koht and Tech Developer for Code for America Joel Mahoney take the group through Open Counter and recognize the City officials involved in making this dream a reality.
Mayor Hilary Bryant discussed how Open Counter will allow shops and stores to open much quicker and how the tool was developed with small businesses in mind. Over 4,500 business in Santa Cruz’s Business License base, more than half of them have less than 10 employees.
Jen Palhka, Executive Director of Code for America talked about the organization itself and how Santa Cruz was the smallest City to ever utlize a Code for America team. (Go Santa Cruz!)
Cruzio CEO Peggy Dolgenos discussed the impact of having Open Counter available and catalyze Santa Cruz becoming a desirable location to start a business. Peggy noted that Cruzio continues to be a partner in civic entreprenuership, both by investing in downtown, in local Internet infastructure, and supporting projects like Open Counter. Cruzio’s coworking space is an epicenter for many entreprenuers and Open Counter will provide what new businesses need to get off the ground.