|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 setting up utility services.
Our goal is to eliminate costly mistakes by letting you know up front what you need to do to get an approval to occupy your location and conduct business. 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 to decide if the location is feasible for you.
I have a business plan and a location in mind. What are my next steps?
Once you've talked to our staff by phone or in the office, click here to create your online account and begin the new business license application process. Staff will review your application and contact you with any questions. Please feel free to call, email or stop by our office in Suite 300 on the 3rd floor of the City Hall building if you have any questions before applying.
During the review process, staff will 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 out if your business location is inside the city and determine the zoning district for the property in which you are interested. The Zoning Ordinance outlines the uses that are allowed in certain zoning districts.
After the review, staff will contact you to advise of any inspections that may be required. Inspections will be 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.
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.
Home- Based businesses are those that operate from the owner’s home office.
- The City Utilities Department has a policy that the applicant for a home based business must also be a responsible party listed on the utility account at the property address of the home occupation
- The Rock Hill Housing Authority does not allow in-home day cares at their facilities and any other types of businesses must receive approval before obtaining a home based business license.
- If you are renting property, you are responsible for obtaining permission from the property owner. Some apartment complexes do not allow home occupations so please make sure to check with them first. We may call your landlord to verify their approval.
- Inspections are generally not required for home-based businesses.
A "Feasibility Inspection" can be conducted of your space at your request and may be required for some businesses. We check your location for safety issues and determine if any major upgrades will be required. For example, adding another handicap accessible restroom.
If any work is proposed that requires construction plans, 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, our one-stop shop will facilitate issuing your Certificate of Occupancy, Business License and set up your commercial utilities.