Navigator Office Aids Small Businesses In Regulatory Process

By Reina Ilagan

Dec 19, 2016 05:16 AM EST

Small businesses in Minneapolis finally gets help in navigating the city's confusing process of establishing a business. An article in StarTribune reported that the mayor and the city council approved a "navigator" office for entrepreneurs.

Among the people who reacted to the navigator office was Dan Swenson-Klatt, owner of Butter Bakery Café for 11 years. Recalling the months he was preparing to open his bakery, he commented that it was confusing and frustrating. He shared that he had to bounce from one city office to another to get approvals to open his business.

He recalled being sent to different people who would only direct him to somebody else. He was left clueless of what to do as nobody showed him what he really needed.

He quit his teaching job to open his business on Grand Avenue S. in Minneapolis. He then moved the bakery to an expanded space at 37th and Nicollet Avenue S. in 2012.

"I was college-educated teacher and helped open schools, so I know something about start-ups. But there were so many levels and layers in getting a small bakery and restaurant open ... you make a misstep and you end up in trouble. For example, nobody at the city told me about [Minnesota] OSHA. They didn't catch up to me until I was opening at the current location. I got involved in this because I've seen other small business owners take a run and give up. Or immigrants who don't know the rules. We can do better."

He has been long supporting the Twin Cities Metro Independent Business Association, the Main Street Alliance of Minnesota and Jewish Community Action in their efforts to make Minneapolis an easier place to start a business.

He joined the owners of other small businesses in celebrating the approval of the small-business navigator office. They gathered at the City Hall with Mayor Betsy Hodges and several members of the City Council. They believe that the city's move will provide hands-on coaching to get entrepreneurs through a simpler, streamlined process.

"The navigators are intended to be the functional one-stop shop. Our navigators will help people navigate city regulations and licenses, and help at different stages, and think through, for example, whether they really need a [beer-and-wine] license, and that expense, or maybe just keep it at a coffee shop," said Deputy City Coordinator Nuria Rivera-Vandermyd who was tasked with setting up the office.

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