Betamore co-founders Greg Cangialosi, left, and Mike Brenner look on during Gov. Martin O’Malley’s presentation
In Governor Martin O’Malley’s estimation, new businesses in Maryland—especially startup companies—face two challenges: finding “smart, talented, skilled people” to hire, and circumventing the “administrative burden” that comes with starting a company.
At Betamore on Monday, O’Malley, along with officials from the Department of Business and Economic Development, introduced what they think will be a tool to remove some of those bureaucratic burdens.
The Central Business Licensing System is a website that allows new companies to do three things:
- Register a business and form the legal business entity with the Department of Assessments and Taxation
- Register a business trade name with the same department
- Establish necessary tax accounts with the Comptroller of the Treasury
Usual fees apply—it costs businesses $150 in the state to register an LLC, whether that’s done in person or online through this website. But processing through the online portal takes five to seven days, at most, compared with 10 weeks, the average time it typically takes owners to register new businesses.
While expedited processing has existed for some time, the system’s other perk is that there’s no more need to travel to West Preston Street downtown to fill out paperwork.
Watch a video of Gov. O’Malley talking about the CBL website:
For a state that was ranked number one in innovation and entrepreneurship by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2012, what the CBL site represents is a good-faith effort on behalf of Maryland’s government to make it easier for business owners to run a company here.
Although the challenges that remain for Baltimore city businesses aren’t necessarily ones shared by startups or established companies in Maryland’s counties, this city’s lower cost of living relative to other cities’ both in and out of state is routinely cited as an attractive reason for starting a company here.
But Baltimore continues to contend with attracting tech workers. Property taxes are the highest in the state (though higher tax rates are to be expected in cities along the East Coast). More than half of renters are spending more than a third of their income on rent, as figures at July’s Data Day showed.
Still, this city’s tech scene has made inroads in the last year. Symbolic too was the governor coming into Baltimore city’s tech community and making the announcement at Betamore, the new part-incubator, part-coworking, part-education space in Federal Hill [and, full disclosure, the location from where Technically Baltimore occasionally works].
Developed by eGovernment solutions firm NIC, the CBL site is the first of its kind in Maryland and was built without the use of taxpayer dollars, said state secretary of information technology Elliot Schlanger.
Schlanger didn’t share the exact costs of developing the website [Technically Baltimore has contacted DBED for the dollar amount], but he did mention that NIC funds website development for various levels of government through transaction-based self-funding.
Each person who registers a business on the CBL site also pays a $4.50 convenience fee, statutory fees that are then deposited into a specified state account to finance future website development.
Watch a video on how the CBL website works:
The website itself is one element of the state’s Maryland Made Easy initiative, launched in January 2011 to identify ways the state can simplify business regulations.
Since the Central Business Licensing website launched at the end of December 2012, more than 100 companies have been registered online.