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In July, Los Angeles will open the doors of its Office of Small, Local and Disadvantaged Business. The new city office will help small businesses navigate the many rules and benefit programs scattered throughout different city departments. Many other cities also gave a small business office that can serve as a good resource for navigating local regulations and opportunities.
As reported by the LA Times, Los Angeles' Office of Small, Local and Disadvantaged Business aims to demystify municipal bureaucracy. While contracting programs at the local, state and federal levels can offer government contracts to some small businesses, all small businesses face local, state and sometimes federal rules and regulations when they start up and operate. At the municipal level, offices like the one to open in L.A. will hopefully assist small businesses to more effectively navigate issues such as permits and licensing, local taxes and incentives, and government contracting.
Other cities have established departments with a similar purpose. A sample of these includes: New York, San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco. In addition to guidance on city bureaucracy, these offices can direct small business toward state and federal regulations and benefit opportunities. Some, such as New York's, offer guidance on business planning, financing, training, and a host of other issues.
Another good source for guidance on small business start-up concerns, particularly if your city or town does not have an office dedicated to assist in small business formation, is your local Small Business Development Center. These are local branches in a federal network which offer one-stop access to counseling on issues such as business formation, financing, management and operations.
The SBDC's are joint efforts by the private sector, educational institutions and local, state and federal governments. In addition to business counseling, SBDC's can offer access to the small business network in your community. Here is an SBDC map to help find a center near you.