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Fearless Brings Digital Business Tools to New Jersey

A new online portal for would-be business owners in the state foreshadows other digital tools in the works to ease permitting, licensing and similar tasks. Nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs have used the software in New Jersey.

(David Kidd)
A new digital tool for small businesses in New Jersey is helping entrepreneurs get their operations started, the latest example of how government technology vendors and public agencies are using digital tools to streamline permitting and licensing.

Baltimore-based digital services firm Fearless designed the online Navigator portal of the state, according to a spokesperson for the company.

Since the site went live in late 2021, it has attracted 66,500 users and now averages about 300 daily users, the spokesperson told Government Technology via email. Since the middle part of April, 950 of those users have formed businesses in New Jersey through the online site.

Immediate comment from state officials was not available.

More than a dozen state organizations in New Jersey support the state’s 900,000 businesses, and often used manual, not digital, processes to serve those business owners. The drive to make the state’s business approval and assistance more digital reflects larger trends that are playing out in the gov tech industry.

One example of that comes from May.

That’s when Kansas-based CivicPlus, which builds websites and software for local governments, debuted software designed to handle permitting, planning, zoning, business licenses, code enforcement and fire inspections through a single interface.

The tool offers “end-to-end documentation, workflow management and public engagement functionality for code enforcement officers, public works directors, community development managers, fire marshals and other local government leaders,” according to a press release about the product.

Then, in June, budget management technology provider ClearGov entered the permitting and licensing market via the acquisition of CityGrows.

The software sold by CityGrows allows local agencies to digitize and automate permitting and licensing workflows. The technology also processes online payments and features what the company calls a “smart dashboard.”

As for Fearless, it says the New Jersey Navigator program lets would-be business owners create road maps for their businesses including helping with the development of business plans and securing funding and the necessary forms and tax ID numbers required by the state.

The company is also now working on an API that would ease communication with the New Jersey treasurer's website so that business owners can create digital dashboards containing all the information the state has about their businesses, as well as deadlines and funding data.