Written by Benjamin Freed
A web portal that accesses business services offered by a range of West Virginia state agencies recently recorded its millionth transaction, said West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, whose office manages the four year old program.
The WV One Stop Business portal, launched in 2017, aims to speed up the processes by which people can start new businesses, obtain permits and licenses, recruit employees, and pay taxes. Among its services is a five-step questionnaire that asks new business founders about their businesses in order to guide them to the documents they will need, such as payroll and insurance forms.
State officials say some transactions that previously took 10 days are now completed in as little as two hours. Besides the website, the portal also exists as a kiosk at a small business development center in the state capital, Charleston. Along with the Warner office, the service draws resources from West Virginia’s departments of labor, commerce, and taxation. It also contains annexes to state regulations governing business practices.
The portal also recently added services for registering nonprofit organizations, which in West Virginia typically require more than 100 pages of documents to be completed.
In an interview with StateScoop last week, Warner said that 99% of state business returns are now made online, as are 90% of professional licenses issued by his office. Over the past year, the portal has added new job categories for which it issues identifying information, including wedding officiants, sports agents, private investigators, notaries, and junkyard dealers. Warner also said the portal has been a financial boon for the state government.
“The costs pay for themselves,” he said. “People can walk [into the kiosk] at 4:50 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, and people will be sticking around to get the papers.
The portal has also won industry recognition, including a 2020 StateScoop 50 award for the state’s IT innovation. Most recently, it was nominated for an award from the National Association of Secretaries of State, which nominated the portal for its innovation, dedication, excellence and achievement in service, or IDEAS, at its recent conference . (That award ultimately went to a project in Michigan in which election officials partnered with professional sports teams to promote voter registration and fight misinformation.)