The special committee was created in January by Mayor Jamie Doss in response to concerns expressed by new business owners that Rome was too difficult of a community to start up a new business in. People were complaining about getting incomplete information during the permitting processes, being passed from one office to another and getting frustrated with the length of time it took to win project approval and get a license.
City Engineers Aaron Carroll said he rarely ever gets a complete set of engineering plans for new construction, which prompted Rich to say a lot of potential small business owners don’t even realize they need an architect or engineer to draw plans for them.
About half way through the year Senior Planner Bryan King was appointed to serve as the primary staff liaison to help walk new business owners or developers through the processes.
During Thursday’s presentation to the committee, City Manager Sammy Rich said a Business Development Support Team had been created with representatives from the planning office, building inspection, the fire marshal, city engineering and others that would, under best case scenarios, meet with potential clients before any formal plans were ever submitted for review to provide upfront information about all project requirements.
“Developers know this, but new business owners don’t,” said Commissioner Craig McDaniel. Building Inspection Director Howard Gibson suggested that somehow all real estate agents should contact his office for information about a building or property before they ever pitch it to a developer.
“This has been a great learning process,” King said. Committee Chairman Bill Irmscher agreed, and added, “I think we still have some way to go yet.”