Open For Business

Open for Business Program

A Program to Provide Personal Assistance to Small Business in
Choosing, Building or Expanding their Business Location

Phone: 803-329-5590
Fax: 803-329-7228 
Open for Business Program Brochure
Other Open for Business Forms
Email Us

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. 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.

Preparing for the Initial Appointment

In preparation for your appointment, we ask that you complete the Zoning and Building Compliance form 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?

Initial Meeting with Open for Business Staff

Appointments are not required to meet with staff but they are highly recommended due to the volume of customers. Please call 803-329-7093 to schedule an appointment or visit the Planning and Development Department at City Hall. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.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.

Inspections

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.

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. 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.

Certificate of Occupancy, Business License and Utility Account

When all work is complete ad 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.

Related Information: 
Business License Application
Business License Application (fillable form)
Business License Frequently Asked Questions
Commercial Utility Services
Agent Authorization Form for Setting Up Utility Accounts


OTHER THINGS TO TAKE CARE OF WHILE YOUR LOCATION IS BEING FINALIZED

There are several other agencies that you may need to contact before you are ready to open, depending on the type of business you have, such as:

SC Department of Revenue
454 S. Anderson Road
Suite 202
Rock Hill SC 29731
803-324-7641
www.sctax.org
All new businesses will need to register with the DOR, which administers the majority of taxes and licenses businesses will need to operate in South Carolina. You can use the South Carolina Business One Stop (www.scbos.sc.gov) to help determine the other types of licenses or registrations your business might need., such as sales tax licenses, alcoholic beverage licenses and amusement and admission licenses.

York County Environmental Health Office - SC Department of Health and Environmental Control
1070 Heckle Boulevard
Rock Hill SC 29732
803-909-7300
www.scdhec.gov
Restaurants and other food service businesses will need to contact the County Health Department to get the appropriate Food Service Permits.

SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
110 Centerview Drive
Columbia SC 29210
803-896-4300
www.llr.state.sc.us
LLR administers the licensing of over 130 regulated professions and occupations, including such diverse groups as contractors, cosmetologists, funeral directors and a wide range of medical providers. Most people are generally aware if their profession is regulated. The LLR website is also a good way to check on the license status of contractors and other professionals you might be considering for hire.

SC Secretary of State
1205 Pendleton Street
Suite 525
Columbia SC 29201
803-734-2158
www.scsos.com
Corporations, limited liability companies and limited partnerships must complete their business filings with the Secretary of State’s office.  This can be done directly with the SCSOS office, or through the South Carolina Business One Stop (www.scbos.sc.gov).

SC Department of Social Services
2638 Two Notch Rd., Suite 220
Columbia, SC 29204
888-202-1469 (toll free) or 803-898-9001
www.dss.sc.gov
DSS provides child care registration and licensing for all child care businesses, including those operating out of a home.

 

OTHER RESOURCES FOR STARTING YOUR BUSINESS IN ROCK HILL

Winthrop Regional Small Business Development Center
118 Thurmond Building
Rock Hill SC 29733
803-323-2283
www.winthropregionalsbdc.org
The Winthrop Regional Small Business Development Center offers both training programs and one-on-one counseling that provide management and technical assistance to both start-up businesses as well as established enterprises.

York County Regional Chamber of Commerce
116 E. Main Street
Rock Hill SC 29731
803-324-7500
www.yorkcountychamber.com
The Chamber has a Small Business Council and often provides information and training that is aimed at small business.

York Technical College
452 S. Anderson Road
Rock Hill, SC 29730
803-327-8000
803-981-7314 (Entrepreneur Network)
www.yorktech.com
York Tech has both credit and continuing education courses that help develop and enhance small business skills.  In addition, they host the Entrepreneur Network to assist, inform and encourage local small business owners, entrepreneurs, and potential entrepreneurs to network, share experiences with others, and engage in valuable educational opportunities.

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