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Arizona Launches One-Stop Shop for Business Services

Arizona Business One Stop is designed for people hoping to start businesses along with operators of existing firms. Lessons learned during its creation could help similar all-in-one platforms achieve success.

Tucson Arizona skyline
Shutterstock/Sean Pavone
Hoping to make the creation and operation of businesses more efficient — and more digital — Arizona has launched a platform designed as a one-stop destination for licensing, applications, tax documents and other tasks vital to commerce.

Called Arizona Business One Stop, the new online portal reflects the broader move among governments to combine many operations underneath the same digital roof. The idea here is to bring disparate business functions — for instance, trademarks and tax IDs, among many others — to a single centralized location, eliminating the often frustrating practice of sending users to other sites via pages filled with links.

That means allowing portal users to employ a single login for multiple sessions, even if they leave and come back. The portal also offers what the state calls a “streamlined application process” and a cost estimator, among other features, all via a single interface. It’s not only for new entrepreneurs but existing business owners who need to access information for, say, expansion.

The effort so far has involved such state agencies as the Department of Administration — credited with launching Business One Stop — and the Secretary of State, Arizona Corporation Commission, Department of Revenue and the Arizona Commerce Authority.

“The vision was how to create an end-to-end digital experience,” Arizona CIO J.R. Sloan told Government Technology. “We can walk you through an entire application process.”

The cloud-based platform was built in-house with responsive design and is the same one Arizona uses for motor vehicle services, he said.

“We are hoping to set the bar for other parts of state work,” he said.

Sloan expects between 500 and 1,000 users to access the portal daily on particularly busy days, and added that the next phase of work over the next two years will include “reaching out to local municipalities,” given that so many business-related permits and permissions stem from those agencies.

The overall effort also includes what he called a “white glove call center” where “guides are ready to engage with users.”

Work on the portal began before the pandemic and included a 2018 feasibility study and consulting from McKinsey, he said, along with a journey mapping exercise. Along the way backers of the project sought buy-in from the various managers and departments whose expertise and data were vital.

Then along came COVID-19, which stalled the budgeting process for the portal, eventually causing backers to lose a year.

During that de facto hiatus, however, project backers turned to design experts at U.S. Digital Response, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that offers grant tracking, procurement evaluation, data analysis and other free, volunteer-driven services to public agencies. In fact, more public agency tech leaders are looking toward such groups to help with other digital projects.

“They helped us refine the model,” Sloan said about U.S. Digital Response.

As for lessons learned so far, he said the technology part was relatively easy when compared against the management work.

“You are stepping into other peoples' backyards, into their domains,” Sloan said.

As for what he would have done differently, the answer came quickly.

“I would eliminate the pandemic.”
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.