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Running a Burlington Business Is About To Get Easier

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Running a Burlington Business Is About To Get Easier

Burlington City Council has voted to begin implementing the recommendations developed as part of the Mayor’s “Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force” initiative to help grow and retain businesses in Burlington and attract new talent to the city.  

The city is not only focused on development but helping all businesses thrive, relocate, or launch in Burlington.

“I am thrilled to see these recommendations passed by City Council and have full confidence that we will see positive and lasting change as a result,” said Mayor Marianne Meed Ward. “The Red Tape Red Carpet initiative was a truly collaborative journey, bringing together the feedback, ideas and insights from our valued business community, internal staff, and external partners.” 

“I look forward to seeing these recommendations implemented over the coming months and keeping you informed of our progress and results.”

Since its inception earlier this year, the city says the Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force initiative has collected insights and ideas from the Burlington business community, partner organizations, and city staff to better understand the challenges to locating or expanding a business to Burlington, as well as finding solutions to better serve current businesses.

“Our commitment is on improving the customer experience for businesses based on the feedback and ideas we heard from the business community,” said City Manager Tim Commisso. “Burlington is open for business and we know we need to continue to work on better supporting local businesses and attracting new ones to our great city.” 

“In partnership with City Council and Burlington Economic Development, an important next step now for the City is to confirm the milestones of this work and create a dashboard to communicate when these recommendations will happen. Work is already underway and we will continue to update the public on the progress we are making on this work for our city.”

There were 22 recommendations approved by council:

1. Establish a position at City Hall to act as our Chief of Business Development, serving as a primary outreach for attracting new businesses to Burlington, overseeing and expediting applications through the system and reporting progress and obstacles regularly to City Council and the City Manager via a monthly dashboard.

2. Develop and implement targets and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including timelines for processing business applications, for all staff in planning, building & development teams.

3. Streamline and optimize the zoning, site grading and Committee of Adjustment processes for faster execution and resolution, considering recommendations from industry professionals.

4. Optimize the City of Burlington website with relevant, informative and easy-to-find content that is search-optimized and externally marketed in order to support businesses through their journey with us

5. Implement improved customer service technology including a self-serve online portal for applicants including the ability to submit and check on the status of their applications.

6. Explore additional paid “Fast Track” options for rush projects and business applications in areas in addition to the existing fast track for building permits, while also ensuring the delivery date results in a firm decision.

7. Foster a strong and meaningful culture of high performance and employee recognition

8. Review the agribusiness rules, zoning, and definitions to encourage diversified use and help support economic sustainability for our rural/farming businesses.

9. Establish a rural-point-of-contact person who can navigate agriculture requests (business or otherwise) with other agencies.

10. Target completion of all minor site plan reviews and zoning clearances within 30 days.

11. Implement an acceptable Standard Deviation for development-related plans and drawings that better accounts for the use of imperial measurements (e.g. 0.00m or 3/16″).

12. Develop a clear vision and associated branding strategy at the City of Burlington with respect to business attraction and development.

13. Mayor and leadership team act as Chief Salespeople, actively seeking out opportunities to bring new business to Burlington.

14. Make business attraction/retention a standing item for discussion at all Planning & Development Committee meetings.

15. Launch monthly Subject Matter Expert (SME) drop-in sessions where businesses can come ask questions and get advice and guidance from experts from the City of Burlington and partner organizations.

16. Create an “Open for Business” customer service window, ideally on the first floor of City Hall, co-locating key staff from different business-related departments for easy public access and on-the-spot collaboration & problem-solving.

17. Review the efficiency, effectiveness and optimal structure of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation and TechPlace, as well as the opportunity for a Municipal Development Corporation, in achieving the city’s business attraction and retention goals.

18. City Manager to review and implement changes to the City’s organizational structure and business processes to give priority strategic focus to enhanced economic and business development working closely with the BEDC.

19. Explore opportunities to use city parking supply as leverage for business attraction and address existing downtown parking challenges.

20. Consider the establishment of a venture capital fund to support business attraction (use Innisfil Accelerates as an example/model – innisfilaccelerates.ca).

21. Increase municipal advocacy by the Mayor and senior leaders at the City of Burlington with other levels of government and partner agencies to speed up their approvals as part of the overall development process.

22. Develop a Brownfield Community Improvement Plan for the City of Burlington with said plan to include redevelopment goals, specific targets, actions, and an implementation and monitoring strategy.

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