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Launching and running a small business can be daunting. That is why two California cities have taken the lead in the last several years to address the needs of their local business communities and pave the way to innovative, collaborative solutions.

In 2014, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee seized an opportunity to rethink how the City could better support its entrepreneurial culture and small business community. The inaugural San Francisco Business Portal was created by engaging local business owners and the many city agencies that serve them. The Business Portal is a comprehensive one-stop shop that features a wealth of resources aimed at first time or seasoned business owners.

Sixteen months later, Los Angeles approached San Francisco to learn about their approach and suggested a partnership to further build on their award-winning work.

With funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Los Angeles added the app-like “Startup Guide”, which addresses a complex, opaque process that today can take weeks to accomplish, and streamlines it to as little as 20 minutes, in which time a user can obtain a complete roadmap for starting a new business. The resource is meant to serve as a starting point for any government wanting to create an online tool for their own business community.

Los Angeles also rebuilt the code base as a Drupal distribution that could be open-sourced, benefitting cities and their entrepreneurs across the country and around the world. Today, the project is ready to be deployed anywhere, making it easier than ever to strengthen the backbone of our economy – small businesses.

Just like the partnership between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which sets an example for how cities can share resources toward mutually beneficial progress, this open-source solution is meant to serve as a starting resource for any government wanting to create an online tool for their own business community.

“Doing business in Los Angeles should be easy — the last thing entrepreneurs need is confusing red tape that slows them down, or prevents them from achieving their dreams. Small businesses are the beating heart of our economy, and the Los Angeles Business Portal will make City Hall more responsive to their needs by giving them the help and support they deserve, all in one place.”

— Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles Mayor

“Collaborating with Los Angeles is only the beginning of what’s possible for cities to learn from each other and deliver modern, sustainable digital products that serve the public.”

— Miguel Gamino, City and County of San Francisco Chief Information Officer


The San Francisco Business Portal was designed and developed by innovation firm Tomorrow Partners, who began the project with in-depth customer research, which resulted in the experience strategy. Tomorrow’s diverse team of designers, strategists and developers use their cross-disciplinary creative firepower to envision game-changing ideas for positive impact in society and realize them with ingenious, yet, practical solutions.

The L.A. Business Portal was, again, designed by Tomorrow Partners, who also did the front-end development. The Drupal backend and distribution were built by CivicActions, a team of developers and certified project managers who help organizations execute large-scale software projects using open standards technologies and Agile management practices.

The project was lead by Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti’s Innovation Team, a team of civic leaders, data scientists, designers and project managers who function as in-house consultants to the Mayor and are funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies to design and implement new solutions for the City of Los Angeles and drive a culture of innovation.


The Business Portal distribution is designed to work with Drupal version 7 and is licensed under Affero General Public License (AGPL) version 3 or later found in the LICENSE file. Drupal is licensed under the GPLv2 or later. The Drupal copyright is held by the Drupal developers. See for more information.

Text content and visual design is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International. Images and graphics are All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2016 City of Los Angeles

Copyright 2015 City and County of San Francisco


The Business Portal distribution was developed in Drupal 7. You can download a compatible version of Drupal at The project is a Drupal distribution, which allows for rapid installation and setup of basic components of the Portal. Leveraging the distribution as a starting point, and utilizing the flexibility of Drupal’s APIs, provides an opportunity to extend out-of-the-box features and customize them to specific visual and functional needs. Specific features include a fully responsive theme, a resource finder, a Startup Guide wizard, and dynamic functionality for various related types of content. The wizard was built with modern Javascript frameworks and Underscore, which complements the web service APIs exposed by Drupal. The Portal also ships with a component-driven content management system, comprised of various widgets that can be placed on landing pages.


This project contains a Drupal 7 distribution to build a Business Portal.

The code in this project is in alpha and should be used at your own discretion.

We continue to enhance the visual styling and sample content deployed as part of the installation profile.


The City of Los Angeles' Startup in a Day solution: The LA Business Portal.







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