Hurt: It takes 150 times longer to start a business now than in 1987.

From Rep. Robert Hurt’s e-mail newsletter today:

Last week I also visited with the owner of an auto repair shop in Appomattox. He told me that he first started his business back in 1987. Back then, he was able to get his business up and running in one day. One day was all it took for him to obtain all of the required permits and licenses and pay all of the required taxes and fees. After running his shop for a number of years, he then moved on to another job. Then, just recently in 2011, he decided he wanted to reopen his shop and found that instead of taking one day to wade through the regulatory red tape, this year it took him five months.

[citation needed]

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

14 replies on “Hurt: It takes 150 times longer to start a business now than in 1987.”

  1. ah, the good old days, when if I wanted to throw together a business that might potentially spew toxic waste all over the community impacting everyone living withing fifty miles for years to come, I could just barge ahead with it and be up and running and polluting within a day!

  2. [citation needed]

    ^^ha ha. nice.

    perhaps it was the same person whose daughter became retarded after the HPV vaccine?

  3. I don’t know about 87, but it does take longer than a day to go from zero to up and running with a business just to do the state corp commission, articles of organization, and local filing, but I don’t think that’s changed radically since I opened my first company in 1997. Perhaps some things have slowed down, but 5 months seems excessive and doesn’t pass the gut check. Hyperbole?

  4. Unless you need to file for a liqueur license or something special related to safety I can’t think of why this would be true. If you are sole proprietor you can collect funds “doing business as” the name of the entity while all the paperwork comes together. For reasons of liability it might be prudent to wait but in my experience you can register an LLC with the state online and get it processed in under 2 weeks.

  5. It can be difficult for a jack-leg, hazardous materials scofflaw with a history of toxic discharge NOV (Notices of Violation) and non-compliance to re-establish his permits…for everyone else, not so much.

  6. Why all the hate?

    Maybe I’m missing the broader context, but significant increases in the difficulty of someone starting a business that may employ people in a time when so many are out of work seems like something worth exploring.

    Most who have commented have either dismissed this anecdote as a lie, exaggeration or even go as far as to disparage the man trying to open the business.

    Maybe I’m new here, but are issues as complex as the entire set of governmental requirements to start a business so cut and dry that there need not be any discussion, but instead ad hominem attacks on anyone who raises the issue?

  7. but new businesses spring up all the time… I never hear anyone say that they could not get their business going because of regulations….

    but if someone wants to provide some convincing data then I’d certainly listen to it but I doubt seriously that it has anything much to do with anything Hurt could accomplish as a Congressman or if there was – he certainly did not specify what he advocated doing to reduce the alleged hurdles so it comes across as the standard Republican anti-regulation shtick.

    most of the permits and regulations that affect the start-up of a business are local and state and not Federal so why is a US Congressman making that point?

    is he saying that localities and the State are over-regulating?

  8. I think he’s saying there’s too much regulation. But the problem is, regulation _should_ happen at a state and local level. It doesn’t take 5 months tho unless you’re dealing with some weird stuff. You can start a business without ever dealing with the state (unless you want to incorporate). You simply go to your local county, fill out some forms, pay about $30 (since you have no previous gross receipts) and tell them about your personal property. It does take all of a few hours. The forms are even available on most county websites. I just did this for moving my business to Fairfax. The most time consuming part of it is actually finding the personal property that belongs to the business for taxation purposes.

    Now, a garage might be dealing with EPA regulations or brown fields or other various things that require further State and Federal oversight and approvals.

    I said “hyperbole” earlier because it seemed as if Rep. Hunt was throwing out an excessive number for effect during his floor remarks (

    At the end of the day, if someone wants to start a business, Government shouldn’t get in the way of that. But there are rules so that the business entity does not infringe on the rights of other citizens. Is there too much regulation? Possibly. But it’s completely subjective and depends on how each of us, as an individual, views the role of Government at its various levels. Since he is a Federal representative, it would make sense that he would be complaining about FEDERAL regulations getting in the way of this man starting a business. If that’s the case, I’m really curious as to what regulations the gentleman from Appomattox had to deal with that caused a five month delay in opening his garage. I can only assume environmental regulations is what the representative is talking about.

    Ergo… “Citation Needed”

  9. Maybe I’m missing the broader context, but significant increases in the difficulty of someone starting a business that may employ people in a time when so many are out of work seems like something worth exploring.

    Either somebody’s lying (Rep. Hurt or the anonymous businessman), or some significant information has been left out of the story.

  10. Yeah Michael, actually it is very easy to incorporate a business in Virginia. I’ve done so several times. It is an absurd story Hurt has concocted. He’s a Republican politician reliably beating the anti-regulatory drum. Hurt needs to come up with a real jobs plan for the 5th, not more ideological puffery.

  11. well according to Hurt and his conservative buddies, if we get rid of regulations – the jobs will suddenly appear!

  12. Chances are any significant delay in starting this auto repair business is associated with becoming certified to perform state inspections. If thats the case, I think a little red tape and time is in order, I don’t want someone opening up shop as a defacto agent of the commonwealth then selling inspection stickers without performing the work, only to disappear into the night. I wouldn’t be surprised if background checks were required for this and those of course take time.
    Also, wasn’t Hurt a part of state government during much of the period during which the new rules complained of passed?
    How does this matter fall under his purview as a member of congress? [next on his agenda: collection of overdue book fees by local libraries?]

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