New Business Checklist

Thank you for considering Shaker Heights for your business! To help you with the process of opening your business, this New Business Checklist, can serve as a resource guide to get you started. Check this list off as you go and remember, we’re here for you through each step in this process. Reach out to us at 216-491-1335. 

We know it isn’t easy to open a business and you’re not expected to go through the process alone. Because of this, we offer a Commercial Project Review, which includes an in-depth scheduled meeting with relevant departments to discuss the trajectory of getting your business open. The Review process includes an application that is shared with the Building, Planning and Fire departments followed by an in-person or virtual meeting. Contact the Economic Development Department at 216-491-1335 to schedule this optional, no-cost Commercial Project Review. 

Location, Location, Location: If you haven’t already secured a location for your business, consult the City’s available commercial properties or review our Home-Based Business information. The Economic Development Department has detailed knowledge of commercial districts in Shaker and is here to help with your search.

Zoning: Confirm the property’s zoning classification to make sure that your business use is appropriate for your new location. The Planning Department can assist with this and can be reached at 216-491-1435.

Business License: Every business needs a Business License before moving into a commercial building. Click here to apply. Questions about your Business License? Contact the Building Department at 216-491-1470.

Interior or Exterior Renovations: Usually, renovations will require permits. Contact the Building Department before starting any demolition, construction or system upgrades. Interested in a loan for your buildout? Learn about the Shaker SBA Partnership Loan

Food Sales: If your business includes food or beverage sales or preparation, contact the Cuyahoga County Board of Health as soon as possible at 216-201-2000 to determine which permits and inspections are required.

 Signage: Contact the Planning Department for zoning and design guidelines. Signage must be presented to the Architectural Board of Review (ABR) before a permit is issued to install a sign. Do not have a sign fabricated before presenting the design to ABR. Learn about our Storefront Renovation Program for more information on a rebate to transform your storefront. 

Taxes: Shaker Heights is a RITA community, and local income tax withholdings and net profits taxes should be paid through RITA. Confirm your payment due dates with RITA. For more information, be sure to visit or call 800-860-7482. 

After You Open

You did it, congratulations! You’re officially a part of the Shaker community and we are so lucky to have you here.

Once you are settled, we’ll share a New Business Welcome Packet with you. In this packet you’ll find information about Shaker Heights Development Corporation, Shaker Life Magazine, Shop Shaker (our shop local marketing campaign), Heights-Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce (HRCC) and more!

We’ll also add your email to our monthly Business Newsletter for Shaker business owners and our quarterly Economic Development Community Update sent to the broader Shaker community. Please lets us know if you have news to share in either of these newsletters or through our Shop Shaker social media.

The Economic Development Department is here to help and to welcome you into our wonderful business community. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions. We want to see you succeed!

Download a PDF version of the New Business Checklist.