In a time when the private and public sectors alike are focused on managing shrinking budgets and economic survival, it would be a mistake to not also be investing in some way, in the future. Businesses and government alike should not only be working our way through the economic downturn, but also positioning our respective operations for future growth and prosperity, including efforts to diversify Nevada’s economy in order to better weather future downturns. It is with that idea in mind that the Secretary of State’s office has directed the development of a new economic development Web site, which will be the first step in the development of an online “business portal” to provide one-stop services to both new and existing businesses in Nevada. A recent report from the Nevada Division of Internal Audits concluded that the development of the business portal Web site could result in tens of millions of dollars of currently unrealized revenues for the state. At a time when every expenditure and potential revenue source is being closely scrutinized, every opportunity to enhance revenues is worthy of consideration.
The recent launch of the new economic development Web site, www.whynevada.com, offers a glimpse at the one-stop concept and demonstrates why there is truly a need for its existence. Economic diversification in Nevada has been, and remains a key, to our long-term economic prosperity. And, while there are numerous Web sites for economic development in Nevada, the Why Nevada site provides the most comprehensive checklist for new businesses.
The new business checklist is the state’s most thorough overview of governmental requirements and regulations by county. The entire site is a valuable economic development tool, but for our purposes here, it is, more importantly, a look into the future of how business in Nevada can be done in a more efficient and effective manner. The checklist is a working example of how we can bring together a broad range of governmental agencies to provide streamlined services to Nevada’s businesses and its citizenry. The development and operation of www.whynevada.com was conducted using existing resources within the Secretary of State’s office and with the assistance of various economic development agencies throughout the state. The expansion into development and operation of a Nevada business portal would require new resources as an initial investment, however, those costs would be quickly recovered through a fee structure based on usage of the portal, and as demonstrated by a cost-benefit analysis, would be an investment with strong returns. Again, the return on the investment is to be measured not only in terms of dollars, but also in terms of increasing and diversifying the state’s economy, bringing increased and enhanced employment opportunities and subsequent increases and stability in tax revenues.
The report from the Division of Internal Audits analyzed information from the Secretary of State’s office, the Department of Taxation, the Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Information Technology to develop a cost-benefit analysis of the Nevada business portal. That analysis examined not only cost-benefit considerations, but also the technological practicality of linking databases and the identification of enhanced revenues through the creation of the portal.
According to the report, the estimated net benefit to the state would range from $28 to $49 million over a period of five years. The Nevada business portal will allow businesses to utilize the “one-stop” concept, and in doing so capture revenue that is currently being missed. For example, currently, when businesses register with the Secretary of State’s Commercial Recordings Division, there is no check to determine if that business has paid the business license fee to the Department of Taxation.
The portal would allow a business to submit organizational documents and fees to the Commercial Recordings Division, and payment of business license fees to the Department of Taxation all at the same time, providing a convenience to businesses and capturing revenue that is sometimes missed.
It will be essential that the development and operation of the Nevada business portal be completed at a minimal cost, with some costs being absorbed by existing staff and through already planned upgrades to existing information systems.
One of the commitments of this office is providing increased accessibility and transparency in every aspect of government. Accountability should always be the priority in government, and it becomes a particularly acute issue when resources are stretched. We believe the establishment of the Nevada business portal will be a major step in enhancing our resources as a state and in providing Nevadans, Nevada businesses and prospective Nevada businesses with a perspective of how the state is operating on their behalf.