SALT LAKE CITY — Mayor Ralph Becker joined White House leaders Wednesday to announce Salt Lake as one of 11 cities pledging to streamline its business licensing process to less than 24 hours.

The White House and U.S. Small Business Administration, in partnership with the National League of Cities, launched the Startup in a Day Initiative, a program encouraging cities to develop online tools and allow entrepreneurs to go through the process in less than a day.

"This partnership really represents the best of what government can and should do," said Becker, who is also the president of the National League of Cities. "We (will) ... take these incredible entrepreneurs in our communities and give them the leg up, as they start-up, to be successful, because too often in government we do get in the way."

Other cities participating in the initiative include Boston, Denver, Nashville, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama is calling on cities from across the country to join the 11 mayors in the pledge.

"If you want to start a business, we'll make it so easy to navigate the license and permitting system online, that you'll be off and running within 24 hours," Obama said in a prepared statement.

To encourage cities to adopt the pledge, Small Business Administration officials announced a $1.5 million competition for seed grants to cities committed to building Startup in a Day solutions.

By the end of the summer, 25 communities committed to the initiative will be awarded $50,000 in prizes, and an additional $250,000 in prizes will go to local and state governments that team up to develop tools that cover multiple regions, Small Business Administration officials said.

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"Entrepreneurs are not patient," said Jeff Zients, White House National Economic Council director. "People with good ideas don’t have time to wait because time is money, but it takes too long to start a business in too many places. Often there’s just too much red tape, as sometimes it takes weeks to wade through the paper work to start a business."

Becker said Salt Lake has already made efforts to improve its business licensing and permitting process by installing kiosks in City Hall and focusing on customer service. Through the initiative, the city will continue toward its 24-hour goal.

"I'm thrilled with this launch," Becker said. "It gives us in Salt Lake City and communities across the country who are working to accomplish these goals a whole new level of resources."


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