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Website aims to streamline business process

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

SALEM Oregon’s Secretary of State wants to bolster the state’s economy by streamlining the agency’s online business registration website.

Businesses operating in Oregon must register with the office, pay license fees, and report tax and payroll data. Businesses already can do much of this in the corporate division section of the agency’s website, but the office plans to revamp the website and offer other services to create a website that’s a “one-stop shop,” according to Don Hamilton, spokesman for the office.

“We are hoping to get to the point where businesses go to one site and take care of everything,” says Hamilton. “We see it as a real opportunity to recover from the economy,” he says.

What the new features will be and look like are still a work in progress, but they will include critical business updates and information about local and regional regulations.

Secretary of State Kate Brown “would like to have this all done sooner than later,” says Hamilton, who declined to give a more specific timeline for completion, saying the new features needed to be tested before being added. “This has to be done effectively and carefully,” he said. “It’s not something you can really hurry up.”

Businesses can still file their registration obligations by paper, but a more comprehensive and easy-to-use website will make the process more efficient and cut costs, which promotes business. Filing by paper can take up to four days to become official, while online registration takes minutes.

The Portland Business Alliance, an association of mostly small businesses, welcomes the plan, saying inefficient registration hoops and lack of knowledge on local regulations discourage businesses and entrepreneurship. “If it makes it easier for businesses to register that’s a good thing, especially in these times,” says Megan Doern, spokeswoman for the association.  

Feedback from businesses that have used the tools already on the agency’s website suggest online registration and filing is popular with businesses. Hamilton cites a 95% approval rating.

In the last two years more than 135,000 businesses have registered with the office, of which about 50,000 filed online.

Online registration lowers the office’s administrative costs and saves paper, says Hamilton.

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