Pa. office 'open for business'

Pennsylvania Open for Business site

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"Evolving doors"

Entrepreneurs in Pennsylvania have a reason to smile. Gov. Mark Schweiker

signed an executive order June 6 formalizing the creation of a "PA Open

for Business" office.

The PA Open for Business Web site initially went live in October 1999,

allowing entrepreneurs to register their businesses online and access a

number of other business-related services such as checking the availability

of a business name or viewing tutorials on developing a business plan.

In the past, companies had to interact with a number of different agencies

in order to do business within the Pennsylvania. But the Web site simplified

the process by providing a way for firms to register online in a single

place. The site collects the data and ensures that the proper agencies are

notified to complete the registration process. About 21,000 forms are downloaded

from the PA Open for Business site each month.

Scott Elliott, a spokesman with the governor's Office of Administration,

said that the site was initially used for downloading forms that eventually

would have to be mailed. "Today the Web site is interactive meaning that

there is no need to send mail," he said. "There are also online wizards

that can talk one through the registration process."

The executive order includes the creation of a steering committee that

will include representatives from the state departments of Labor and Industry,

State, Revenue, and Community and Economic Development. The Office of Administration's

Office for Information Technology (OIT), as well as the Center for Customer

Service and Innovation, will also be represented. The new office will strengthen

the project, Elliott said.

As with any interactive Web site, there are potential weaknesses. "With

any site that is this complex, there are always things to improve upon,"

Elliott said. A simple way to improve the site would be to bring more state

agencies on board, he added.

Microsoft Corp.'s .NET technology will be used to enhance the site,

said Marty Rupert, the project manager. Microsoft .NET is a set of Microsoft

software technologies for connecting applications via the Internet. "We'll

begin the project on July 1 in order for an early release this October,"

he said.

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