Turning Permitting Into an Asset Not a Quagmire

When the going gets tough, the tough get…competitive.  That’s exactly what a group of business leaders across the Space Coast are focusing on as the economy continues to fluctuate.  Led by the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, representatives from local architecture, engineering and construction firms are part of a collaborative effort seeking to identify impediments to the structural growth of Brevard County.   Known as the Development Council, this group takes action that directly aligns with the EDC’s aggressive strategic priorities to make the Space Coast more business friendly.

Development across the county, state and nation has slowed considerably since the boom days seen just a few years ago.  When the real estate market was red hot, we didn’t have the necessary time or resources to help change the system.  Today, one of the main questions clients are asking developers is how fast the permitting process can be completed on a to-be-built commercial structure.  Making this process more efficient represents a large competitive advantage for our area when businesses are looking to relocate.

Efficient Is Effective

Over the past year, the Development Council has been formulating plans and putting into motion initiatives to make the permitting approval process more progressive at both the county and municipal levels.  With introduction from our local area chambers of commerce, the council has presented ideas and ways to streamline current building permit and site planning processes that each city can implement for its individual needs.  Not only would these ideas cut down on the amount of time it takes for final approval, but the efficiencies could also potentially lead to cost savings.

For instance, some of the ideas proposed are already up and running at a number of municipalities throughout Brevard.  Several items – like reviewing building and site plans at the same time; accepting single page modifications instead of requiring an entire set of plans; and instituting pre-application meetings with all departments at once – have the potential to cut the average site plan and permitting approval processes each down by one month.  A two-month cut represents a competitive advantage for Brevard County as we continue efforts to attract world-class businesses to our community.  The more streamlined and uniform we become as a community, the faster new businesses can get up and running.

Everyone Has an Investment

We know to be successful our efforts can’t be one-sided.  That’s why our team started by surveying city and county staff to get feedback on the processes they viewed as the most easily changeable and then studied the feedback to create our strategy and targets.  After all, these experts working in permitting departments across the county are on the front lines and have a unique perspective into what is working and what isn’t on a daily basis.  These teams were also highly receptive to our ideas and have since pledged to work together to come up with the best practices that are good for both the cities and the community at large.

The companies providing the information to these departments must also be a part of these efforts, which is why we are working within the private sector to educate developers, architects, engineers and contractors on ways to streamline submissions and provide necessary information upfront.  Sometimes, delays can’t be avoided if documents are incomplete or information is lacking in a permitting submission.  By sharing our progress with private industry, each party knows what is expected of them and we all share responsibility for upholding these standards.

At the end of the day, the Development Council’s success equals success not just for developers or the individual cities or the county, but rather for every citizen that calls Brevard County home.  Maintaining our competitive environment is key to expand existing and attract new businesses to Brevard.  This is the first undertaking of its kind within the county and it has the power to revolutionize the way in which commercial projects are approved at the county and city levels.  After all, this type of thinking is in line with the legacy our community has maintained for the last 50 years – innovative ideas to spur competitiveness.