February 29, 2024

The Nerve Archive

Where Government Gets Exposed

Small Businessman Boasts 19 State Licenses


engineer plans

“It’s eating all my time. And a good bit of my money, too”

Last week we had a visit from Jack. He’s from McCormick County, and stopped in while in town on a job.

Jack (and that really is his name) is a self-employed structural engineer. He’s followed the stories we’ve occasionally posted on the punitive and disingenuous nature of business licenses and local government fees. He stopped by the office (a) to say hello and have a cup of coffee, and (b) to tell us his own complaint about licensing laws.

“I went into business for myself about six years ago,” he tells us.  “I contract with several large companies in several different states. They manufacture outdoor sheds and carports – that kind of stuff.”

Business has been pretty good, he says, “but now I’m trying to expand the business and hire a new employee. I’m doing all the plotting, all the paperwork – everything. I need someone else to do the paperwork so I can concentrate on what I know how to do.”

One of his biggest problems? “I have to maintain business licenses in nineteen different states. Just about every company I deal with is located in a different state, and I have to have a license for each one. It’s insane. I shell out a huge amount of money – well, it’s huge for me – on just fees for business licenses.”

It’s not just the money, either. “The time it takes is enormous. Look, I’m an engineer, not a secretary. I’d like to hire someone to do some of the engineering work with me, but if I hire anyone, it’s going to be a secretary who do the books and keep track of all the licensing crap. I could do the books myself, no problem, but these applications and the fees – just finding the right office in each state – it’s eating all my time. And a good bit of my money, too.”

So for the privilege of doing work for a company in Nevada, Jack, who tells us he’s never set foot in Nevada, has to pay $200 to that state’s government.

South Carolina’s state business license for contractors is also a nice round $200. We wonder how many small business owners South Carolina’s holding down in other states.

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The Nerve