Fellowships | FUSE CORPS
Strengthening Business Relations Using Strategic Marketing and Communications
Office of Finance
Los Angeles, CA

“Strengthening Business Relations Using Strategic Marketing and Communications” 
Los Angeles Office of Finance 
Los Angeles, CA 

PROJECT CONTEXT

The City of Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the United States and one of the largest metropolitan economies in the world. Key to maintaining the vitality of the city are the many contributions of local businesses. Los Angeles takes great pride in supporting business activities and is an ideal springboard for aspiring entrepreneurs. Every month, hundreds of new businesses open their doors, providing jobs in vibrant business districts that knit together the fabric of Los Angeles’ many diverse neighborhoods. Most are considered small businesses, but they are instrumental in making LA the thriving city of entrepreneurs we see today. Of particular interest to the city are the numerous small businesses that are owned and operated by underrepresented groups and located in underserved communities that have demonstrated a need for assistance in accessing the vast array of city resources. A meaningful opportunity exists to outreach and engage those business owners to enable them to focus less of their time and energy on compliance and more on growing their thriving enterprises. 

Any individual or entity conducting business activities within the City of Los Angeles is required to apply for and obtain a Business Tax Registration Certificate. The city’s Office of Finance is responsible for the issuance of registration certificates and collection of $2.5 billion in annual revenue from taxes, licenses, fees, and permits. Approximately 450,000 businesses are currently registered with the city and more than 3,000 new businesses register each month. Among registered businesses, most file tax information in a timely manner and comply with the tax obligations. However, some businesses have expressed misunderstandings or confusion regarding tax measures and underreport their tax liabilities. This can result in monetary penalties which, in some cases, cause otherwise thriving businesses to fail. Additionally, there are thousands of individuals engaged in business activities who are unaware of the tax registration requirements or neglect to register. These circumstances have a direct impact on the diverse business districts and neighborhoods across LA and require the dedicated attention and outreach of the department. 

The Office of Finance, under the direction of a new and dynamic Director, recognizes that tax compliance can be arduous for many businesses, despite their sincere efforts to follow guidelines. The department recognizes that the majority of its communications were designed for business operations in the 20 th century, relying heavily on bulk mail paper notices. The department has a renewed focus on drastically improving the customer experience of interacting with the department and sees an opportunity for improved communications with taxpayers by ensuring that information is concise, accessible and human centered. The Office of Finance welcomes a partnership with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level Fellow for one year in order to develop a sustainable communication plan including a comprehensive outreach and social media strategy. Success of this project will result in many small businesses avoiding wasted hours at City Hall, the hassle of onerous regulation and in some cases, heavy financial penalties that may jeopardize entire business operations, allowing them to thrive and be productive in the community for years to come. 

PROJECT SUMMARY

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the Fellow, and FUSE staff during the first month of the project, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the Fellow and the host agency. 

Starting in October 2017, the FUSE Fellow will learn about the city’s business tax registration requirements for persons and entities that engage in business activities within the City of Los Angeles. The fellow will begin to understand the complexity of tax measures and the challenges faced by the Office of Finance in its current efforts to promote public awareness and compliance. A primary role of the fellow will be to conduct research to assess the effectiveness of the department’s existing communication methods. The research will include discussions with Finance executives and staff, a review of administrative processes and informational materials, development of surveys to gain insights from taxpayers, and observations of taxpayer interests at business outreach events sponsored by the city. Additionally, the research will include a review of effective outreach and marketing programs utilized by other tax agencies. 

After compiling sufficient research, the FUSE Fellow will develop a comprehensive outreach plan to promote business tax registration and compliance within Los Angeles. The plan will include a broad range of communication strategies that appeal to new and existing businesses as well as emerging industries. A particular emphasis of the plan will be on business activities that are often difficult to reach, such as the sharing economy, home-based businesses and online commerce. 

Success in this project will be measured by positive trends in new business registrations, timely tax renewals, online transactions, customer feedback surveys, and overall website traffic. Success will also be measured by reductions in mass mailings of tax discovery and delinquent payment notices, public requests for information from the call center, long lines for resolving issues at public counters, and correspondence from the public regarding tax assessment concerns. 

POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
 
  • Conduct a thorough review of the current landscape and develop a foundation of relationships – Quickly get up to speed on current operations of the Office of Finance as well as its challenges and opportunity areas. Conduct interviews with stakeholders to gather information and understand various perspectives. Begin to formulate a vision of how to achieve behavioral and cultural changes that lead to improved operational outcomes.
  • Engage key stakeholders and develop data-driven recommendations – Attend and participate in business outreach events that promote information and services offered by the Office of Finance. Create and administer business engagement surveys, analyze the data, and report the results to a varied audience. Identify opportunities to leverage the L.A. Business Portal to improve public notices and tax information disseminated by the Office of Finance. Recommend innovative ideas to foster business outreach by working collaboratively with public officials, business advocates, professional organizations, and other government agencies. 
  • Develop a plan for improved communication systems – Develop a sustainable outreach and communication plan to increase the visibility and understanding of business tax requirements for the city, including a comprehensive social media strategy. Present recommendations to immediately enhance current messaging and correspondence for the website, emails, brochures, mass mailings, and other outreach materials. Determine the feasibility and potential benefits of conducting targeted outreach campaigns in multiple languages or certain categories of taxpayers. 

KEY STAKEHOLDERS
 
  • Claire Bartels, Director of Finance, Office of Finance 
  • Selwyn Hollins, Assistant Director Finance, Office of Finance 

QUALIFICATIONS
 
  • At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a background in communications and marketing, change management or program management. Experience in the development and implementation of large-scale promotional strategies strongly preferred. 
  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills to effectively present information to diverse audiences as well as business owners, corporate professionals, community groups, and public officials. 
  • Ability to quickly get up to speed on complex issues and processes. Superior critical thinking and analytical skills. Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations to improve service delivery. 
  • Strong record of success engaging a variety of cross-sector stakeholders and managing cross-functional teams. Track record of successfully building and sustaining relationships, particularly between the public and private sectors. 
  • Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with varying goals and motives using strong emotional intelligence and empathy. Passion for small business management and an appreciation for the challenges of entrepreneurship. 
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, creative leader who is an independent worker, resourceful in coming up with novel solutions to complex problems, persistent in obtaining information, and able to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments. 
  • Flexibility, adaptability, persistence, humility, inclusivity and sensitivity to cultural differences. Demonstrated understanding and value for the uniqueness and diversity of Los Angeles and its many business communities.  
  • Fluency in two or more languages is a plus. 

TO APPLY 

Click the link below to upload a resume and complete the online application questions in lieu of a cover letter. The application process will allow you to indicate interest in more than one fellowship opportunity. You only need to submit one application. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as selections will be made on a rolling basis and specific opportunities may close quickly. 

This role offers the opportunity to work full time for 12 months as an independent contractor of FUSE Corps with an annual stipend of $90,000 paid through monthly installments. 

The FUSE Fellowship is an equal opportunity program with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives. We strongly encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply.

_

APPLY: Strengthening Business Relations Using Strategic Marketing and Communications


Previous MonthNext Month
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat