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     Guía de Negocios- En Español

    This guide includes resources and City requirements for a typical business and may not be exhaustive.  The absence of an item from this guide does not constitute a waiver.  While some links to external web pages are included for convenience, it remains the business owner's responsibility to communicate with and meet the requirements of all relevant local, state, and federal agencies.

    Checklist:  Open for Business in Grand Rapids! (PDF)

                  Who can provide entrepreneurial resources?
                  How do I find a location for my business?
                  Are incentives or financing assistance available?
                  What licenses and permits will be needed?
                  How do I start utilities and services for my business?
                  What taxes and fees will my business need to pay (and collect)?

    Who can provide entrepreneurial resources?
    MI Small Business
     & Technology Dev Center
    (616) 331-7370
    The MI-SBTDC is an SBA funded non-profit organization that provides valuable resources to entrepreneurs. Low-cost training, one-on-one counseling, and market research are a few of the services the SBTDC offers to assist companies in achieving their desired outcomes. Whether yours is a new business looking for guidance, an existing business primed for growth or a high tech venture, the SBTDC has services designed specifically for you.
    West Michigan Science
    & Technology Initiative
    (616) 331-5840
    The Initiative helps new high tech ventures, including biotech, information technology and advanced manufacturing access a host of services to grow a business. The Business Accelerator Center serves as a one stop shop to help transfer technology to product development. It offers: incubation space, business plan development, access to venture capital, market research, management recruitment, professional legal services, national technology review, and student interns.
    GROW Website
    (616) 458-3404
    GROW is an SBA funded, non-profit women's business center. GROW provides training and ongoing counseling for clients to develop skills and acquire the knowledge needed to achieve financial independence. Their programs focus on entrepreneurial training through mentoring, counseling, seminars and classes.
    SCORE Website
    (616) 771-0305
    SCORE is a non-profit organization sponsored by the SBA and housed by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. They are dedicated to helping the small business community through free mentoring and business counseling and low-cost workshops. SCORE volunteers use their real life business experience to help your business thrive.
    Small Business Resource Center Website
    (616) 998-5400
    The Small Business Resource Center is located on the lower level of our Main Library and provides the timely and reliable business information you need to start, manage and grow your business. You will find designated workspace and Internet access, specialized business databases, fax and copier access, plus librarians to help guide you through the stages of small business research. Use the center to write your business plan, target new customers, find sources of financing and much more!
    Grand Rapids Public Library Website
    (616) 988-5400

    Grand Rapids Public Library is located in eight urban Grand Rapids neighborhoods. The library provides access to a host of entrepreneurial information and resources both on-site as well as via the internet. With a valid Library or Internet Access Card, individuals may search online databases from home or at one of the Library’s convenient locations. Most specifically, Reference USA provides detailed information regarding US and Canadian Businesses. Users can search by company name, location, and even the type of business. Additionally, users have the ability to search residential databases by name, number, or address. Access to the library and its internet sites are limited to Card holding members only. Library cards are free and available for individuals residing within the City Limits.

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    How do I find a location for my business?
    How do I find the right Grand Rapids property for my business? City-owned Properties

    Downtown Retail Properties

    Economic Development

    The Right Place, Inc.

    Identifying the right location can be one of the most difficult tasks for entrepreneurs looking to start or expand a business.  Many factors influence business location including market size, competition, condition of existing buildings, feasibility of renovation or new construction, zoning, etc.  Taking advantage of all of the resources available to help with your decision can improve your chance for success.

    If you haven't already identified a location for your business, resources are available to help you match your vision to available properties.  For City-owned properties, click here.  For downtown retail properties, click here.

    Is a special planning/zoning approval needed to operate in this location (zone district)? What's My Zoning?

    Zoning Ordinance

    Property Use Verification (PDF)
    Business uses may be permitted by right, require a special approval, or require a hearing by the Board of Zoning Appeals.  You will need to reference the Zoning Ordinance or contact the Planning Department.  To determine the zoning and related requirements for a specific property, click here.  To determine whether a special approval is required for a specific business use, reference the Zoning Ordinance (see pp. 143-4).  For documentation regarding potential non-conforming ("grandfathered") uses, apply for a Property Use Verification (PDF). If you need assistance, Planning staff members are available to help.
    What structural or building system modifications (if any) are needed to operate in this building?

    Online Inspection Services

    Change of Use (Building) Permit 

    Fire Department Requirements

    Any structure in which you open or re-locate a business must meet code requirements for use and occupancy, including electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems.  The structure must also meet the requirements of the International Fire Code, as adopted by the City of Grand Rapids.  For information on use and occupancy certificates issued by Building Inspections during the past 10 years, check our Online Inspection Services.  Try an address search in the "Permits" section.  If you are changing the use of a structure, a change of use (building) permit (PDF) is required to verify compliance.  If you need assistance, Development Center staff members are available to help.

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    Are incentives or financing assistance available?

    Economic Development Website
    (616) 456-3431
    The Economic Development Office assists businesses with site development, expansion and location within the City. Staff can provide information and assistance for tax abatements, site selection, Renaissance and Neighborhood Enterprise Zones, and the redevelopment of blighted, obsolete and contaminated properties. Economic Development also serves as your liaison with the SmartZone, Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and the Economic Development Corporation.
    Downtown Development Authority Website
    (616) 456-3034
    The DDA was created in 1979 to promote economic growth and revitalization and encourage historic preservation within the central business district. The DDA offers incentives for building reuse, areaway (the portion of the basement extending under the sidewalk) fill expenses, streetscape Improvements and may provide additional assistance to major projects within the central business district.
    Michigan Economic Development Corporation Website
    (888) 522-0103
    The MEDC's mandate includes: attracting new businesses, keeping existing businesses in Michigan, and providing industry information.  The MEDC assists businesses with site location, financing, employee recruiting and training, permitting and coordination of site development, resources and services.
    Economic Development Foundation Website
    (616) 459-4825
    The EDF, a Michigan non-profit organization, is licensed to administer the Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 Loan Program. All 504 loans are made in conjunction with a lending institution, such as a bank. 504 loans benefit small businesses by allowing them to access capital at low, fixed interest rates with a 20 year term, and with only 10% down. The loans can be used to purchase land, construct a building, or purchase an existing building.

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    What licenses and permits will be needed?
    What State of Michigan requirements apply? One Stop Web Tool

    Use this comprehensive tool to identify state requirements for business, including licenses and permits.  The idea behind the Michigan Business One Stop is to make doing business in our state easier than ever!


    What City-issued business licenses are required? Business Licensing

    One or more business license(s) may be required to any person operating, conducting, maintaining, or otherwise engaging in any trade, business, profession, occupation, amusement, or privilege. The City Clerk’s Office will issue a business license in accordance to the provision of the City Code for the purpose of preserving public health, safety, or welfare.


    What construction permits are required? Development Center The City Development Center is your one stop source for project planning, construction plan review, permitting and inspection services.  One or more permit(s) is/are required for site work; for modifications to any structure (including a single wall); or to an electrical, HVAC, or plumbing system.  Most work must be performed by a licensed contractor, and a professional designer (architect or engineer) is highly recommended.  Special requirements apply in historic districts.
    What Fire Department permits are required? Inspections & Permits

    Fire Prevention
    A Fire Department Operational Permit is required for restaurants, bars, and night clubs; many industrial processing activities; and businesses involving the processing, handling, or storage of hazardous materials.  For a complete listing, click here.  A permit is also required for a special event or for pyrotechnics special effects.
    How can I obtain approval to install a sign? Sign Permit Application (PDF)

    Zoning Ordinance
    A sign permit is required for any sign or banner, whether permanent or temporary, placed in the City of Grand Rapids.  Sign regulations are detailed, and are intended to balance the advertising needs of businesses with the public's general interest in an attractive and clutter-free community.  Sign regulations are included in the Zoning Ordinance (see pp. 282-332).  A sign permit is required for an awning that functions as a sign.
    How can I obtain permission to use the City right-of-way (street, sidewalk, etc.)? Sidewalk Permit

    Temporary Occupancy Permit (PDF)

    Encroachment Permit (PDF)
    A Sidewalk Permit issued to a licensed sidewalk builder is needed to construct or repair sidewalk located in the public right-of-way, a curb cut / drive approach from a public street to a private driveway or curb / gutter.  A Temporary Occupancy Permit (PDF) is needed to occupy the public right-of-way for non-permanent construction-related purposes (e.g., scaffolding, dumpster, equipment).  An Encroachment Permit (PDF) is needed for ongoing use of the right-of-way for permanent steps, awnings, overhanging building features (e.g., facade, equipment).
    What Kent County licenses and registrations are required? County Clerk

    Health Department
    You must register your "Doing Business As" (DBA) name with the Kent County Clerk.  Also, food service establishments and temporary food vendors must be licensed by the Kent County Health Department.  For additional information, visit Kent County's contact us page.

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    How do I start utilities and services for my business?


    Electric Utility

    Consumers Energy Business Services
    (800) 805-0490

    Consumers Energy is the local electric utility. To visit their business customer service page, click here.  To submit an online request to start service, click here.

    Gas Utility

    DTE Energy Business Services
    (800) 477-4747

    DTE Energy is the local natural gas utility. To visit their business customer service page, click here.  To submit an online request to start service, click here
    Water Utility

    GR Water System Customer Service
    (616) 456-3200

    Grand Rapids Water System Customer Service staff members are available to answer your questions regarding opening and closing accounts, billing, payment, meter reading, leaks and other water related issues.
    Recycling & Refuse Service

    GR Recycling & Refuse Services
    (616) 456-3232

    The Recycling and Waste Services division of Public Services is committed to making the City of Grand Rapids one of cleanest and most sustainable cities in the United States. They aim to leverage the latest innovation in waste systems management and recycling to reduce the environmental and financial impact of waste in the Grand Rapids Region.

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    What taxes and fees will my business need to pay (or collect)?


    Property Taxes

    City Treasurer
    (616) 456-3020

    The City Treasurer mails property tax bills and processes payments received.  To look up property taxes for a specific property, click here.  To estimate property taxes, click here.

    Income Taxes

    City Income Tax
    (616) 456-3415

    Michigan Department of Treasury
    (517) 373-3200


    Every corporation doing business in the city, whether or not it has an office or place of business in the city and whether or not it has net profits, is required to file a City return. Corporations cannot choose to file and be taxed as partnerships.  For information on corporate City income tax, click here.  For information on withholding individual City income tax for employees, click here.

    Information regarding Michigan business taxes is available through the State Department of Treasury website.

    Information regarding federal taxes is available through the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is not furnished as part of this web site.

    Sales Taxes

    Michigan Department of Treasury
    (517) 373-3200

    Individuals or businesses that sell tangible personal property to the final consumer need a sales tax license.  Information regarding Michigan sales tax is available through the State Department of Treasury website.

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