Catherine Geanuracos
October 31, 2020

Lake Barrington, IL: Rapid digital transformation in a small local government

The Village Clerk of Lake Barrington, IL found CityGrows through a Google search just before the winter holidays. She had been looking for a way to bring the community's business licensing applications online, and saw that CityGrows had helped other small governments with similar workflows. Lake Barrington's population is just under 5,000 people, and it's about 40 miles NW of Chicago. It's a beautiful community with parks, riverfront nature preserves, and of course a lake. The Village has four full-time staff, with part-time help from their Treasurer. Like many small communities, they've wanted to offer more digital services for a while, but have not had the financial or staff resources for complex, expensive technology.

Like all of us, they had no inkling that our lives would be transformed this Spring by COVID-19, but because they had started to move to digital services with CityGrows, they were able to react and make changes quickly, as well as maintain normal licensing operations.

When Clerk Lisa C. Pena-Tlapa found CityGrows, she reached out and got a demonstration of the product. She quickly realized that she could use the CityGrows platform to create a digital version of the Village's existing Business Licenses, combined multiple paper forms into one workflow for all her businesses. Working with CityGrows staff, she revised and tested her Combined Business License workflow - where businesses used to have to fill out separate forms if they had a general, Restaurant, or Liquor License, Lake Barrington was able to combine all those questions into one workflow by using CityGrows logic features. She set up special triggers that alert her if a Liquor License applicant answers "yes" to any of a series of questions that would require closer review of an application, she can review the certificates of insurance that applicants have uploaded, and she can easily ask applicants for clarifying information with the Discussion feature. The plan was to launch in March, and then everything changed.

Because Lisa was ready to go with her digital application, she was able to quickly adjust the fee calculation formula on CityGrows when the Village decided to cut license fees in half for most businesses. And when the Village Hall was closed to protect staff and residents from the virus, businesses could file online, and she can review and approve applications from home.

"Everyone I know who works in government's head is spinning, with all the changes we are having to make.  I'm thankful we have our licenses on CityGrows, so we can adjust things quickly when we need to.  That's priceless!" Lisa C. Pena-Tlapa, Lake Barrington Village Clerk

Working with Lake Barrington is a good example of how the CityGrows team makes big changes for small towns - we had to adjust our standard per-transaction processing fee to comply with the state of Illinois limits. And our customer support team worked closely with Lisa to help her set up the logic jumps and formulas included in her workflow, as well as helped her create a custom PDF export. Now, instead of Village staff doing data entry, processing check payments, and manually creating license forms and mailing them to businesses, everything happens online. Businesses can print their licenses at the end of the workflow and are choosing to pay electronically, keeping everyone safe and at home.

We're looking forward to the opportunity to help with Lake Barrington's building permit workflows in the future, because keeping permitting and licensing moving, even if government teams are working from home, is one way to ensure that we have the smallest possible economic impact from COVID-19. Lake Barrington is a great example of how even a very small community can benefit from digital services. Now any government can copy and customize Lisa's Combined Business License.

Our team here at CityGrows believes that staff and residents of any sized community can benefit from offering digital services, especially now. Connect with us via our online chat or email us info@citygro.ws.

Catherine Geanuracos

Catherine is the CEO and a Co-Founder of CityGrows. She's dedicated to supporting local governments and helping them improve outcomes for their residents and staff members. She is a former VP of the City of Los Angeles Innovation and Performance Commission and co-founder of LA's Code for America Brigade Hack for LA. She's based in Los Angeles.

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