|A Program to Provide Personal Assistance to Small Business in
Choosing, Building or Expanding their Business Location inside City Limits
Open for Business Program Brochure
Other Open for Business Forms
What is the Open for Business Program?
If you are starting a small business and you think you have found a place that is suitable to put your small business, we would like to introduce you to the “Open for Business Program” provided by the Planning and Development Department. In our office we have trained staff assigned to assist small businesses with the process of opening, relocating or expanding their business inside City limits. Our staff assists business owners with the entire process, start to finish including:
- checking the location for zoning code, building code and fire code requirements,
- coordinating inspections and plans reviews, and
- issuing the business license and creating the utility account.
Our goal is to eliminate costly mistakes by letting you know up front what you need to do to get an approved Certificate of Occupancy or Zoning and Building Compliance Permit by performing a "feasibility" inspection. We check your location for safety issues and determine if any major upgrades will be required. For example, adding another handicap accessible restroom. This allows you to determine all costs up front and decide if the location is "feasible" for you.
I have a business plan and a location in mind. What are my next steps?
In preparation for your appointment, we ask that you complete the Application to Start or Change a Business answering as many questions as you can. The realtor or leasing agent for your potential location should be able to provide most of the information required about your proposed business location. Of course you are the expert on your business itself and the details of its operation. We will help you complete any information that you don’t have or that you are not sure about. Having as much information as possible about your type of business as well as the building and site you are considering helps us to make sure the information and guidance we give you is accurate and applicable to your particular business.
Information to bring:
- Floor plan of the space, if available.
- Square Footage of the space and the entire building.
- Number of bathrooms in the space. Are they handicap accessible?
- Number of parking spaces available for your space. How many are handicap accessible?
Our office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. At the initial meeting we will discuss your business and the business location and should be able to determine if the zoning of the property allows your business use and if there are any major issues in meeting basic requirements that might prevent you from moving forward. Use the Map Search to find the zoning district for the property in which you are interested. The Zoning Ordinance outlines the uses that are allowed in certain zoning districts.
Inspections will scheduled depending on the business type and if it is classified as a low-impact or high-impact business.
A low-impact business is:
- opening in an existing space,
- used by a similar business in the past, and
- where no permit-required construction is proposed.
View our brochure for more information about opening your low-impact business.
High-impact businesses are those that involve more code requirements and include:
- Assembly uses such as churches, private clubs, etc.,
- Any vehicle repair facility,
- Beauty salon, barber shop or spa,
- Any business with a paint booth,
- Day care or child care facility,
- Restaurants, food service or commercial kitchens, and
- Other hazardous classification occupancies.
View our brochure for more information about opening your high-impact business.
A "Feasibility Inspection" can be conducted of your space at your request and may be required for high-impact businesses. We check your location for safety issues and determine if any major upgrades will be required. For example, adding another handicap accessible restroom. This allows you to determine all costs up front and decide if the location is "feasible" for you.If any work is proposed that requires construction plans, you can prepare them and submit them for review. You can visit our Commercial Building Permits page for more information about plans and permits. Some changes to certain buildings and business types are required to be drawn by a SC licensed architect. Our office can help you determine if this is required. Once the plans are approved, permits can be obtained and the work can be completed. Inspections will be done as necessary throughout the construction process.
When all work is complete and the space is ready to open, we will perform the final inspection. A Certificate of Occupancy (or C.O.) is issued and the Zoning and Building Compliance Form you completed earlier is approved. You can set up your utility account and obtain your business license right in our office. You will need to complete a Business License Application, sign a Utility Service Agreement and pay any required deposit.
All Open for Business Forms and Checklists
Application to Start or Change a Business
Business License Application
Business License Application (fillable form)
Business License Calculator
Business License Frequently Asked Questions
Business License Online Payment
Commercial Sanitation Services Info
Commercial Utility Service Agreement
Commercial Utility Services
Agent Authorization Form for Setting Up Utility Accounts