Starting an enterprise is difficult enough without obstacles being shoved in your way that are not related to your business plan. Take Cluck!, for example.
Its founder, Drake Patten, is the former executive director of The Steel Yard. She had the idea that the city needed an urban-farm-supply store, given the rise of people raising chickens and tending garden plots in the city and close-in suburbs. So far, so good.
But a series of bureaucratic silliness, combined with some neighborhood opposition, made the experience a trying one (the store is finally open).
First, Patten was looking to reuse an abandoned gas station in Providence’s West Side. But in order to put her retail establishment into the building, zoning relief was required.
By the end of the process, which included relief, a successful appeal (because of a zoning-board mistake), relief again, Patten estimates she spent close to $10,000, not to mention the lost business while the appeal was decided and the carrying cost of having to wait to open a story while holding already purchased inventory. No wonder so few businesses find the state (and the city) hospitable.
The answer: simplify the process (putting it online would be a start) and bring down its cost. We need to be supporting small-businesspeople, not building barriers to their success. •
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