CHARLESTON – “Moving at the Speed of Business” is the motto of the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Business and Licensing Division. Advances in technology and a new user-friendly website have given our office the opportunity to communicate more effectively and respond quicker to the needs of the state’s business community and entrepreneurs.
In all, there are more than 106,000 entities registered to do business in West Virginia. In addition, there are more than 16,799 charities and non-profits legally registered to operate in the Mountain State. And I bet you didn’t know that we have more than 41,000 notary publics properly licensed through the state.
The Secretary of State’s Office plays a unique role in business development here in West Virginia. Not only is my office responsible for registering and maintaining annual reports on each and every entity conducting business in the state, we are also charged with enterprise licensing for notaries, private investigators, scrap dealers, sports agents and those who perform marriages.
Until just last year, registering to do business in West Virginia was somewhat cumbersome. While the registration process started in the Secretary of State’s Office, it wasn’t complete until approved by the State Tax Department and/or the Department of Labor and Workforce West Virginia. Depending on the nature of the new business, it used to take up to two weeks for a business owner to complete the registration process.
But the Legislature sought to streamline that process. And my team of business and licensing professionals were up for the challenge.
Working with Gov. Jim Justice’s administration and keeping legislative leaders updated along the way, my office and administrators from all three of the other state agencies came together to discuss, plan and implement improvements to the registration and licensing process. The end result – the formation of the West Virginia One Stop Business Center, the only four-agency single-location business and licensing center in the nation.
The West Virginia One Stop Business Center is located at 1615 Washington Avenue just one block from the State Capitol. The West Virginia One Stop comes with plenty of free parking adjacent to our offices. While the Secretary of State’s Business & Licensing Division makes up most of the personnel housed at the West Virginia One Stop, the State Tax Department, the Department of Labor and Workforce West Virginia all have employees working there as well.
Today, an entrepreneur or business owner wanting to start or open a new business in West Virginia only has to make “one stop” to get the entire registration process completed.
In addition to the main operation located in Charleston, the West Virginia One Stop Business Center is supported by two “Business Hubs” – regional offices staffed with WVSOS business and licensing professionals. The North Central West Virginia Business Hub is located at 200 West Main Street in Clarksburg. The Eastern Panhandle Business Hub is located at 229 East Martin Street in Martinsburg.
Not one additional employee had to be hired to open the West Virginia One Stop Business Center or either of the Business Hubs. We used existing staff to complete the additional functions.
On Jan. 17, we will celebrate the one year anniversary of the West Virginia One Stop with an Open House from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tours will be available and the public is invited to visit us at 1615 Washington Avenue in Charleston.
Warner is West Virginia’s Secretary of State.