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Inyo County files first fully-digital FBN in CA increasing small business participation & compliance

Inyo County, CA, USA

At a Glance

With a large area and small population, Inyo County ran into workflow inefficiencies with its Fictitious Business Name (FBN) filings. The county was looking for effective methods to increase compliance and participation while encouraging new business development.

Problem Addressed

Inyo is the second largest county in California, with the second-smallest population. Many residents live more than 50 miles away from county offices-- making in-person paperwork time-consuming and expensive.

For business owners to complete a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) filing they had to mail forms and payments and/or make a trip to the county office and wait for staff review. In the meantime, there was little transparency about where the application was in the process or when to expect a response from the County. This left constituents in the dark, and often discouraged them from applying for an FBN at all. FBN compliance wasn't great, while staff time spent reviewing filed FBNs was high.

Inyo County used/is using CityGrows permitting software to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

Inyo County implemented CityGrows' permitting software, offering the first-ever completely digital Fictitious Business Name (FBN) filing in California. The software allows business owners - big and small - to easily file for their FBNs from any computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Now, when business owners file for FBNs, they have transparency on where the application is in the review process, limiting calls and questions directed to the Clerk Recorder's office. This transparency helps city employees run through the submission process, with a user-friendly backend that indicates what the next step is.

By bringing the workflow and licensing fee payment online, county staff don't have to make the long commute to the office to review FBNs with the option to do so from home.


  1. Increased small business participation and compliance in filing, with 90%+ of business filings completed online by year 2.
  2. 50% more entrepreneurial ventures completed the required FBN process, representing home-based businesses previously unknown to the county
  3. An overall more efficient process, reducing application time from weeks to just hours
  4. More revenue to the county and better data for planning services as a result of overall higher FBN filing rates

Something Unique

In 2018, the Inyo County Clerk-Recorder's Office received a Challenge Award from the California State Association of Counties in the Rural category for its digital FBN program, being the first of its kind in the state.

Who Should Consider?

Cities and counties looking to streamline and digitize application workflows to increase compliance and participation.

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