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Ombudsman for small businesses

Published (3/9/2012)
By Nick Busse
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Small-business owners who need help navigating the state’s regulatory structure might soon be able to appeal to an ombudsman for help.

Rep. Bruce Vogel (R-Willmar) sponsors HF2575 that would establish a “small business advocate office” within the Department of Employment and Economic Development. It would provide “one-stop access” for assistance with obtaining licenses, meeting regulatory requirements and resolving disputes with state agencies.

The House Jobs and Economic Development Finance Committee laid the bill over for possible omnibus inclusion March 6. It has no Senate companion.

Vogel said the new office would help small-business owners get permit applications processed in a timely manner. The bill specifies that DEED would create the position using existing staff rather than hiring new employees.

“What we want to do is create a position or a person in the department that will focus on helping people through the process,” Vogel said.

He said it would be similar to an ombudsman position that already exists in the Department of Transportation, as well as one with the City of Edina. He noted that Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed creating a similar office.

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