City Streamlines Permitting Process

New Bedford is Making Its Permitting Process Faster and More Efficient in Order to Expand and Attract Businesses
New Bedford Economic Development Council

Cumbersome permitting processes frequently delay or permanently halt development projects. States and municipalities throughout the nation have taken measures to lessen the impediments that have long constrained development. In Massachusetts, an Act Relative to Streamlining and Expediting the Permitting Process was passed in 2006.
To emphasize the importance of streamlining permitting in Massachusetts, Governor Duval Patrick’s FY 2008 budget contains funding for permitting assistance with $4 million earmarked for streamlining permitting through the new Mass Permit Regulatory Office.
In October, New Bedford began weekly “First Stop” meetings which give citizens seeking a permit the opportunity to receive advice from relevant department representatives at the start of the process.
Each citizen is allowed 20 minutes to present their project and ask questions.
Providing the answers and other advice are members of the newly formed Permitting Task Force, comprised of representatives from city departments and boards involved in the permit approval process. These include city planning, inspectional services, public infrastructure, fire department, health department, and the offices of city solicitor and community development.
The task force is charged with determining methods to improve the city’s permitting process including studying other municipalities in order to learn of best practices.
Mayor Scott W. Lang gives this two-pronged, streamlining initiative high praise.
“This will allow us to simplify a sometimes cumbersome process that everyone from the average citizen to the major developer must adhere to in order to build or relocate. A streamlined process benefits both the city and developers, saving time and energy for city employees and for businesses and potential investors in New Bedford’s economy,” he said.
“A comprehensive meeting at the beginning of the process helps to alleviate some of the common misunderstandings that can occur with any permitting process,” said City Planner David Kennedy.
Citizens interested in presenting their projects to the Permitting Task Force at a First Stop meeting should call (508) 979-1488 to schedule an appointment.
Another helpful tool in the city’s permitting process is “Navigating Through Regulations and Licensing Requirements in New Bedford,” a newly published guide produced by The Pioneer Institute’s Center for Economic Opportunity with the support of the New Bedford Economic Development Council.
The guide simplifies the regulatory requirements for more than 20 types of businesses and presents local, state and federal requirements in a concise and logical way.
Resources are also listed in the book to help business owners start or expand a company as well as hire employees.
“Economic development is only successful if you believe in creating employment opportunities job by job, which means small businesses are essential to New Bedford’s long term success,” said Matthew A. Morrissey, NBEDC executive director at a press conference to announce the guide’s release.
Added Jim Stergios, the Pioneer Institute’s director, “Too often government regulations can be a real obstacle. New Bedford is fighting that by making it easier for small businesses to expand.”
The guide is available on the home page of the NBEDC website at
Since the release of the Guide, the Mayor’s office and the NBEDC have received many requests for the Guide including real estate agents, bankers, business counselors, and entrepreneurs.

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