City and business leaders recently unveiled broad changes to the City’s business process intended to make Savannah the best city in which to do business in America.
The changes are the culmination of a nearly two-year-long process initiated by Mayor Edna Jackson, who created the public-private Business Roundtable to analyze the City’s business services, research best practices, and recommend improvements.
Mayor Jackson joined members of City Council, City Manager Stephanie Cutter, Business Roundtable Chairman Greg Parker and dozens of City leaders during a news conference in the lobby of the Broughton Municipal Building, where much of the business permitting process occurs.
“The changes outlined today are a start. They are not the end,” Mayor Jackson said. “As long as I am Mayor, we will continue working to become the most business-friendly city in America.”
At the news conference it was unveiled that Forbes Magazine’s recent “Best Places for Business and Careers” list showed that Savannah has moved from 145th in the nation to 78th in the nation in just two years.
Among the improvements, which have been phased in over the past year include: • Overhaul of the business approval process to simplify and reduce the number of steps. • Creation of new business liaisons to help businesses navigate City permitting • Adding more online functions, such as online permit applications and online payments • Creation of a new customer service administrator to improve customer service across the organization • The launch of new citizen feedback tools, such as survey kiosks at major City facilities, to drive improvements • Redevelopment of the City’s business website, www.savannahga.gov/business, to make it more customer focused • Creation of a new marketing plan that targets technology startups and promotes Savannah as business friendly Creation of an online business dashboard to measure progress
“There is no reason we can’t be the best place in which to do business in America,” said Alderman at-Large Carol Bell, the City Council Liaison to the Business Roundtable. “We need to do a better job of removing the obstacles to opening a business in Savannah. When we have more jobs, we have less poverty, less crime, and a higher quality of life.”
During the Roundtable process, City employees visited businessman Greg Parker’s convenience stores to learn about customer service techniques and feedback tools he uses. Many of those techniques are now being used by the City’s newly created customer service administrator to implement organization-wide changes.
“I want to commend the Mayor and City Manager for their willingness to roll up their sleeves, partner with the private sector and embrace change,” Parker said. “Savannah has a strong economy, resourceful citizens and a proud tradition of innovation and entrepreneurialism. It is gratifying to see the City of Savannah step up and be part of this momentum.”