Beginning on June 3, 2022, the Town of Erie will reinstate the requirement for yearly renewals of all licenses for businesses operating in the Town and will collect a nominal fee. The Board of Trustees approved this change to the Erie Municipal Code at a meeting on Tuesday, April 26. The 2022 fees associated with the business license and renewals (fixed by an annual fee schedule) will be:
$50 for all commercial businesses
$25 for home-occupied businesses
This fee helps to cover the Town’s cost of administrative work required to review and process the licenses and renewals.
The business license fee and renewal requirements were removed in 2018. The previous software program and process for businesses to apply for, or renew, a business license was identified to be tedious and a heavy lift for business owners. The Town has already implemented a newer, more streamlined, system since 2018, with a new permitting and licensing software upgrade planned for later this year that will make the process even easier. Town administrators learned removal of these key interaction points between the Town and the businesses ended up having the opposite effect of being friendly to businesses. This was most obvious over the last two years of the pandemic when it was increasingly difficult to reach out to businesses in Erie to help support them through the tough economic reality of Covid. The lack of data collection meant the Town has no way to truly know which businesses are still in operation, and which may have closed or dissolved; there were no consistent or accurate contact emails, phone numbers, or even owner names to reach out directly with offers of support. A lack of accurate, ongoing data also makes the Town of Erie more difficult to promote to other prospective businesses looking for demographic information and impacts the Town’s ability to more thoroughly present information when applying for business grant funding. Requiring a yearly renewal and collecting a fee will be good for the business owner and good for the Town, allowing for the up-to-date collection of contact information and sharing of important information for business assistance, grants, and more.
“We are supportive of this return to business license renewals and fees,” said EEDC Executive Director DeAndrea Arndt. “Maintaining a close connection with the Town through their Economic Development Department is instrumental for the success of our business investors and we want to keep those open lines of communication available.”
The Town of Erie also has a new staff member dedicated to working as a liaison to small businesses and to help walk them through any processes for which the owner may need support. This Small Business Development & Special Event Coordinator, Gwen Garrison, is hitting the ground running with these things:
Managing Business Licenses.
Identifying barriers small businesses are facing in their opening, operation, and expansion while advocating on their behalf where necessary.
The development of the new makerspace (Idea Miners) at the Schofield Farms property.
Acting as the liaison to Town partners (specifically the Erie Chamber, Erie Economic Development Council, Airport Economic Development Advisory Board, and Downtown Erie Business Association) in their efforts to host community events.
The development of a small business support programs for entrepreneurs.
The development of regular business outreach, including site visits, a newsletter, and surveys to see what support entrepreneurs need the most.