'OpenCincy': City Launches New Small Business Development Tool

Tool provides those looking to invest in Cincy with 24/7 access to City

CINCINNATI – The City of Cincinnati is excited to announce the launch of ‘OpenCincy,’ a new user-friendly online tool developed to guide small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs through the process for opening or expanding operations in Cincinnati.

The OpenCincy Business Permitting Portal, powered by OpenCounter, outlines the specific license, permit and fee requirements for operating a brick-and-mortar business in the Cincinnati. Information can be customized down to the specific zoning requirements for a particular neighborhood or street address. 

You can find the tool at www.cincinnati-oh.gov/opencincy.

"Small businesses are the engine of our local economy,” said Mayor John Cranley. “Small businesses create jobs, generate tax revenue and help build vibrant, engaged neighborhoods; however, until now, there have been very few tools specifically designed to give entrepreneurs and small business owners looking to invest in our city a clear breakdown of the various processes they will face. With this new tool we look forward to changing that reality and are excited to help create a truly ‘Open Cincy.’”

OpenCincy is built around the City’s municipal regulations and provides the user with a customized “road map” of required permits, fees and licenses they will need to successfully open or expand their business. For example, someone looking to open a restaurant in Bond Hill can look up zoning requirements for a specific address or various areas throughout the neighborhood. They will also be given a robust list of necessary permits, estimated associated costs and contact information based on the specific information they have entered about their (proposed) business and/or facility.

By moving this process online, the City can provide reliable, targeted feedback to Cincinnati’s community of entrepreneurs 24 hours a day. The tool also provides the City with a new level of insight into economic trends.

“Our goal is to make doing business with the City of Cincinnati as easy as possible. Through OpenCincy we are doing just that by increasing communication, enhancing availability and eliminating confusion on both sides of the counter,” said Patrick A. Duhaney, Acting City Manager. “OpenCincy gives City staff access to a powerful suite of administrative tools that help analyze proposed projects and business owners can use the tool to cut project research time from a few days to a few minutes.”

This effort has been spearheaded jointly by the City Manager’s Office, the Department of Buildings and Inspections, and the Office of Performance and Data Analytics with support from the City’s Enterprise Technology Services Department. It is part of an ongoing effort to improve the City's permitting experience.

Open Cincy Launch Event

The City will host a formal OpenCincy launch event Friday, August 3 at Union Hall (1311 Vine St.) in Over-the-Rhine. The Mayor, Acting City Manager, and the founder and CEO of OpenCounter, Joel Mahoney will offer remarks and unveil the new tool to members of the local startup and business communities. Staff will be on hand to offer one-on-one, personalized demonstrations.

About OpenCounter

Designed for the citizen experience, OpenCounter asks the right questions, in the right order, so citizens can see the requirements, fees, and processing time that apply to their projects. By making information available across departments, OpenCounter also helps municipalities coordinate internal workflows, and build better relationships with the citizens that they serve. OpenCounter was piloted through a Code for America fellowship in the City of Santa Cruz, CA and has been supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.