An interesting story about municipal regulations piled upon municipal regulations in Chicago comes to me from IB. In Chicago, as in other large American cities, recent immigrants are disproportionately involved in entrepreneurial small businesses. And in order to conduct business in Chicago, you need various kinds of permits. To get the permits, you need to fill out forms. The forms, meanwhile, are in English and Spanish. The Office of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection also has one Cantonese-speaking, one Mandarin-speaking, one French-speaking, and one-Polish speaking employee who can help you translate.
So what if you’re from Vietnam? Well, there used to be an answer. Guys like Tam Van Nguyen would get paid money by Vietnamese entrepreneurs to go down to the BACP office and do the forms, “but in 2008 things got complicated. The city started requiring people like Nguyen to have a something called an expediters license.”
Meanwhile, Rahm Emanuel wants to make it easier for immigrant entrepreneurs to help launch new businesses in part by launching an “Office of New Americans” to identify and clear barriers to immigrant entrepreneurs. That seems like a perfectly reasonable idea to me. But why not start by dropping the expediters’ license rule so it’s easier for people who don’t speak English to get someone to help them with the forms?