Fort Worth entrepreneurs are facing major barriers to business, according to a new report shared during Fort Worth’s fifth annual State of Entrepreneurship luncheon on Wednesday.
The nonprofit organization Institute for Justice collected data from Fort Worth and surveyed local entrepreneurs to learn the biggest factors slowing business owners.
For an aspiring restaurant owner, it can take up to 63 steps to open a new dining establishment in Fort Worth, with a total cost of more than $4,200.
While startup permitting fees generally cost less in Fort Worth than other major U.S. cities, the number of different fees is larger than nearly 20 other cities across the country, the IJ report revealed.
So what’s the answer to making this process faster and more efficient for aspiring entrepreneurs?
According to Jennifer McDonald, IJ’s assistant director of activism special projects, the solution lies in streamlining the permitting process.
“Fort Worth is a little bit below average on how expensive it is, but a lot higher than average on the number of fees and work forms and things like that,” McDonald said. “Every city has its challenges, so what I want people to take away from this is there are challenges and there’s room for improvement, but we’re not here to disparage the city. We’re here to start the conversation.”
IJ outlined several steps to fix the issue, including reducing startup fees and penalties, establishing more complete step-by-step guides and consolidating duplicative paperwork.
“We’ve actually been in a startup slump in this country for decades,” Hwang said during his keynote speech at the State of Entrepreneurship luncheon at The Social Space. “Entrepreneurship has been on the decline.”
The U.S. is at half the rate of entrepreneurial activity today as it was in the 1970s, according to U.S. Census data over the last four decades. Hwang said the downward trend has been happening slowly so many people don’t even realize.
“This is an issue that is deep in the American DNA,” Hwang said. “When you ask Americans, ‘Is it important to America’s future that citizens have a fair opportunity to start and grow their own businesses?’ Ninety-four percent of Americans agreed with us.”
Fort Worth’s State of Entrepreneurship luncheon was one of several events hosted in Fort Worth and across the metroplex this week as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week North Texas.
Last year, the entrepreneurship event was the largest of its kind across the country with more than 4,700 in-person and virtual guests across 135 sessions. The event provides North Texas residents with exposure to the metroplex’s community of aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators through a variety of networking events and informational sessions.
While Fort Worth has hosted Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) for the past few years, this is the first time the event expanded outside of the city to include Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin counties.
HSC Next, TechFW, Accelerate FW and SCORE Fort Worth were among several Fort Worth organizations to host sessions and lead events. Darlisa Diltz was awarded Instigator of the Year for her contributions to GEW North Texas.
“The make it or break it of large nations and societies is made up of the stories of entrepreneurs,” Hwang said.