California recently launched the California Business Incentives Gateway (CBIG), which is striving to bring all of California’s state and local economic development programs and incentives together in a single access point. The objective is to create an Amazon.com-type of shopping experience to help the state’s businesses find the exact programs that match their needs. Guest blogger Darrene Hackler provides the details:

The California Business Incentives Gateway (CBIG) is an initiative from the California State Treasurer’s Office. CBIG is a comprehensive online tool that provides detail on state and local business development incentives in a single access point. It can serve all sizes of business from start-ups to large multinationals and profiles incentives that are available from across multiple California state and local agencies. The database enables a business to query a single site for incentives and business assistance that fit their business and location needs, such as site selection services, targeted tax breaks, training grants, fee waivers, permit assistance, low-cost or tax exempt financing, reduced utility rates, and employee recruitment.

Although some other organizations attempt to provide a tool to provide comprehensive information on business development incentives, most only profile options available at the state level. They tend to lack geographic, business phase, and other relevant site selection and assistance details.

Unlike a third-party doing the research to build the database, populating the CBIG database will rely on crowdsourcing from the agencies offering the incentive. State agencies and local governments and organizations can register as a government partner and upload their business incentive and economic development offerings at no cost (https://cbig.ca.gov/en/GovPartnerDirectory). The member can input their incentives, qualifying content, service providers, and other available resources like “impact stories” illustrating a testimonial of business owners in text or video format. The CBIG Team will evaluate and approve all content before an incentive and any content is available to the public online. (For more detail, see https://vimeo.com/206078726, “How to Upload Your Incentives to the CBIG Website”)

From the business point of view, a business can register and begin to look for information on locations to expand, permit assistance, loans, and/or employee training. The company can enter details about its business, including industry, size, facilities, and number of employees, and expect the site to return all incentives and programs that match their criteria organized by the type of program or service. According to the Treasurer’s office, CBIG will allow the business to sort through additional criteria and drill directly into the program or incentive details necessary to actually apply or take advantage of the program offerings.

Already, 116 state and local government partners have registered and begun to input incentives (268 as of this writing) through the CBIG interface. With increasing participation from local and state governments accompanied by high utilization of businesses seeking incentives and assistance, CBIG could achieve its goal of serving as a single business’s universal application to all incentives from the state of California and its over 4,000 local governments.

CBIG will dramatically change the economic development landscape in California by simply putting the opportunities state and local governments have worked so hard to create and maintain in the hands of California’s innovators, entrepreneurs and job creators. There cannot be a more efficient and effective economic development strategy that is guaranteed to communicate that “California is Open for Business.”

Source: California State Treasurer, Building California’s Future Begins Today, p. 35.

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