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How Maine businesses can speed through red tape, get answers

Mark Stephens, owner of the Brewster Inn in Dexter, expresses his frustration at the &quotred tape" which small business owners in Maine are often confronted with during a &quotRed Tape Workshop" held at the Newport Cultural Center on Saturday, January 8, 2011. Hosted by the Sebasticook Valley Chamber of Commerce, the meeting is part of Gov. LaPage's &quotRed Tape Removal" audit, which seeks to eliminate issues hampering job creation in Maine.
KATE COLLINS | BDN
Mark Stephens, owner of the Brewster Inn in Dexter, expresses his frustration at the "red tape" which small business owners in Maine are often confronted with during a "Red Tape Workshop" held at the Newport Cultural Center on Saturday, January 8, 2011. Hosted by the Sebasticook Valley Chamber of Commerce, the meeting is part of Gov. LaPage's "Red Tape Removal" audit, which seeks to eliminate issues hampering job creation in Maine.
Posted Sept. 30, 2013, at 12:51 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 30, 2013, at 1:46 p.m.

In an increasingly capable, competitive business environment, an owner, entrepreneur or employer should be able to access the information they desire at the speed of commerce. The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development has streamlined the Business Answers and Red Tape Hotline programs over the course of the last two years in order to meet that very goal.

The two programs, available online and by phone, were set up to create a gateway for owners, entrepreneurs and employers to access the information and support needed to operate and grow their businesses. Business Answers, as the name suggests, is a clearinghouse for information about doing business in Maine, while the Red Tape Hotline provides a venue for people to call when facing a bureaucratic hurdle or business impediment.

During my time as an account executive for Gov. Paul LePage, Business Answers has grown into a far more nimble and efficient resource: first with the Licensing Assistant, developed for online users in February of 2012; and then with the fully personalized account capability, advanced site navigation and search mechanics instituted in July of 2013. Both programs may also be accessed by mobile device to serve the active owner.

With the initial web correspondence to Business Answers, the user can expect a response within 24 hours. When contacting Business Answers by phone, a friendly staffer will answer the call and will endeavor to provide the answers sought in the shortest amount of time. Also made readily available are the necessary and pertinent documents, as well as advice, for one’s current business venture. From microbusinesses to convenience stores to high-tech manufacturing facilities, we’re working to ensure that the relevant business information and assistance is only a few key strokes or a phone call away.

In a recent experience, a woman contacted me through Business Answers with the hope of acquiring licensing information for her start-up alternative healing practice. I was able to direct her focus to four primary areas: Sales Tax Certification; Resale Certification; Licensing and Registration; and general business assistance from resources including the Service Corps of Retired Executives and the Maine Small Business Development Center. Her request, sent in the evening, was met with a thorough response by the next morning.

A constant aspect of our Business Answers program is that, in pursuit of maximizing our high-tech capabilities, we also remain high-touch. Attentive guidance is our most fundamental role. Business Answers and the Red Tape Hotline, and the staff people operating them, demonstrate profound commitment to their users and share a keen sense of mutual success when hard-working and dedicated Maine entrepreneurs and employers get the information and assistance they need to hire and employ Mainers and to help grow our economy.

You can call the Red Tape Hotline at 624-7486. Business Answers is accessible online at www.maine.gov/businessanswers and by phone at 800-872-3838 (for calls from within Maine) and 800-541-5872 (for calls from outside of Maine).

Jaimie Logan serves as Gov. Paul LePage’s account executive in the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development covering the regions of Knox, Waldo, Lincoln and Penobscot counties.

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