Santa Cruz City is a finalist for a national project sponsored by an organization called Code for America -- and the goal of it all might be surprising to some local critics. It's an innovative plan to cut red tape for local business. The program is designed to use the power of the Web to solve problems for local cities and towns.
The program -- or, as it's described, a fellowship, selected the city of Santa Cruz as one of 10 finalists for its idea to provide online help to businesses struggling with questions of how to apply for permits, what permits are needed, whom to ask for help and more.
Here's the idea, as spelled out in the project application:
"The city of Santa Cruz is seeking to partner with Code for America out of a shared vision that citizens shouldn’t have to choose between economic development and policies that protect the natural resources, vibrancy, and character of their communities. Together, we hope to use technology to streamline the process."
In a statement outlining the proposal Mayor Ryan Coonerty envisions the project as a computer interface like TurboTax, to help small businesses confused by the complexity. He says: "We’re using technology to make government more efficient, transparent and easier to work with for small business owners.
If the city makes the final cut for funding, Code for America would provide staffing and technology -- as well as training -- to develop the online technology that startups could use.
It's popular to say that the city does little to help local business. There mere act of applying for this fellowship demonstrates otherwise. Now, let's hope that Santa Cruz's application is one of the winners.