ATLANTA — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is proposing to streamline the processing of business license applications to help the state’s economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Raffensperger’s office oversees more than 135,000 different business licenses in Georgia. Lowering the barriers to licensure would make it easier for businesses to open up and hire Georgians thrown out of work when the economy shut down, he said.
“We want to make sure people do a good job,” Raffensperger said Tuesday during a webinar for small business owners sponsored by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Hispanic Chamber. “(But) we don’t want to create barriers that keep them from enjoying their professions and tie them up in needless red tape.”
Raffensperger said COVID-19 has not killed Georgians’ ambitions to start and grow businesses. Despite the pandemic, more than 730,000 Georgia businesses have renewed their licenses this year, while 24,737 new businesses have applied for licenses, he said.
“That shows the entrepreneurial spirit within all of us as business owners,” he said. “COVID-19 has been a wakeup call. … It’s going to give us an opportunity to grow and adapt, not just retreat.”
The secretary of state’s office already has acted to ease requirements for a nursing license to help get more nurses on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. In March, the office’s Professional Licensing Boards Division began issuing temporary permits for out-of-state nurses to work in Georgia.
Raffensperger said he will ask the General Assembly to approve his plan to ease licensing restrictions when lawmakers resume the 2020 legislative session later this spring. The session was suspended indefinitely in mid-March due to coronavirus.