Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Decatur wins award for business license website

From left to right, Calvin Rhodes (chief information officer, State of Georgia), Ryan Wilson (VC3), Claire Miller (Children & Youth Services and Decatur Technology Committee), Russ Madison (Revenue Division & Technology Committee), and Shaun Shabazz (Revenue Division).

Decatur has received an Innovation Showcase 2015 award from the Georgia Technology Authority for two projects including the City’s business license renewal website at The award was presented during the annual Georgia Digital Government Summit on Sept. 22.

The story behind the award is that the City of Decatur Revenue Division needed a way to make the license renewal process quick and easy for 1,700 business owners. The division looked to technology, and its online business license project culminated in the fall of 2013 with the launch of the website in partnership with Sturgis Web Services and Paypal. The website allows businesses to renew their license online without having to mail a paper check. The website also enables businesses to print their own license if they choose, after the payment has been applied to their account. Payments can be made by credit card or echeck with no additional fees charged to the business. The website was optimized for mobile devices in 2014.

Prior to the new website, a business could renew its business license in Decatur only by mailing a check along with notarized immigration affidavits or by physically taking printed materials to City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Businesses usually had to wait 7-10 business days to receive new licenses in the mail.

In addition, data about business licenses was available only internally. Businesses wanting information about their own records had to visit, call, fax or email the city’s Revenue Division. Customers had no easy way to access information about businesses they patronize, and anyone who wanted to know if a business was operating with a current, valid business license had to contact the city or submit an open records request. Depending on what they wanted to know – such as the business owner’s name and contact information – additional research may have been required by staff. Other city departments had to contact the Revenue Division if they needed information about a business.

Information about the other Georgia Technology Authority award winners and their projects can be found at

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