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Andrew Tellijohn / Forum Communications Co., Published January 21 2011

Minnesota Commerce Department held up as licensing example

ST. PAUL – While Minnesota lawmakers haggle over redefining permitting and environmental review processes, one business leader presented a potential solution.

Charlie Weaver, executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership, said he wants state permitting procedures to mimic those of the Minnesota Commerce Department, which instituted an electronic system for managing licensing insurance, real estate, appraiser and collections professionals in 2006.

In 2009, the Licensing Division managed more than 190,000 licenses, said Nicole Garrison-Sprenger, Commerce Department spokeswoman.

“When you try to do that kind of volume on paper, it not only produces additional work for the department but creates a significant delay between the time someone applies for a license and the time they receive it and begin working,” she said.

“Most applicants for a license can now apply for a license, have it approved and print it within days,” she said.

The change has allowed the department’s licensing division to improve turnaround five-fold and reduce staff by 35 percent since electronic licensing was adopted, Garrison-Sprenger said.

Andrew Tellijohn is a Twin Cities freelance writer who contributes

to Forum Communications Co.