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The fee holiday, which began on Sunday, enables home-based business owners to obtain the required permit or renewal for free, bypassing city fees. In addition, the program offers amnesty to unlicensed business owners, allowing them to apply without penalty….

With the long-term goal of sparking business growth in West Linn, the city has granted a yearlong reprieve for business owners in need of home occupation permits and licenses.

The program, which began on Sunday, enables home-based business owners to obtain the required permit or renewal for free, bypassing city fees. In addition, the program offers amnesty to unlicensed business owners, allowing them to apply without penalty. The fee holiday will run through June 30, 2013.

Business owners in West Linn pay between $36 and $138 for licenses, required to be renewed annually. In a normal year, home-based business owners shoulder a second permit fee — $100 the first year and $10 for a renewal. The yearlong program will equate to a $6,800 loss in revenue for the city, staff estimate.

But West Linn’s new economic development director, Chris Kerr, expects it to pay off in the long run.

Kerr proposed the fee holiday – his first project since becoming economic development director at the start of June – after noticing areas to improve on in the city’s licensing process. Businesses needed a clear benefit from it, he thought. “It seems like a resource the city should be tapping into.”

Originally, Kerr suggested the city waive fees for all business licenses, in addition to home occupation permits. However, the resulting loss of $41,000 in city revenue was too much for city council to swallow. On June 25, council approved the amended fee holiday that excludes waiving the business license fee.

The fee waiver for home-based businesses will encourage more owners to apply, Kerr said, providing a more factual number of such endeavors in West Linn. Currently, out of 1,245 licensed businesses in the city, 423 are located in residences.

With a broader inventory of businesses, city staff can better identify owners’ needs. For example, Kerr said, if he notices a group of home-based baking businesses, staff could work on establishing a community kitchen or a store front the bakers could lease for a month to give their goods more visibility. Staff also hope to connect small business owners with helpful resources and aid in marketing.

“Part of it,” Kerr said, “is creating the idea that the city is a little more business friendly.”

Rachel Stark

 

Read more http://www.oregonlive.com/west-linn/index.ssf/2012/07/for_one_year_west_linn_waives.html

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