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Record-breaking number of WV entrepreneurs file online

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CHARLESTON, WV -

More and more entrepreneurs are using the Internet to file.

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant is counting a record-breaking number of online annual report filings.

A total of 56,443 annual reports were filed online this year during the January-to-June filing period. Last year's reports totaled 43,381. When Tennant took office in 2009, only 14,300 annual reports were filed online, and the number rose to 23,939 in 2010 and then 28,640 in 2011.

"There are tens of thousands of business owners in West Virginia who are taking advantage of these online services that save them time and money while offering a more efficient government," Tennant said in a news release. "They were able to file this important document with our office when it was most convenient for them – whether it was late at night or on a weekend."

The website to file online, business4wv.com, provides a video tutorial to help business owners with the steps in the online filing process and a chat feature for a business owner to be connected to a Business and Licensing Specialist.

The site also allows business owners to provide their email addresses to be notified if an unknown person modifies their annual reports, which could suggest business identity theft.

The reports contain information such as a business's managers and officers and business address, but there is no financial information contained in annual reports.

The Business and Licensing Division entered 16,256 annual reports by hand, and there are 16,301 organizations that have not filed annual reports and will face late filing fees along with possible dissolution later this year.

Business and Licensing Division Director Penney Barker said the numbers are "exciting" to the staff.

"We have worked very hard to reach out to the business community and inform them of the advantages of filing online," Barker said in a news release. "With more people filing online, it frees up the staff to work on other business-friendly initiatives, as well as assist business customers in other ways, making the State of West Virginia an even better place to do business."