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  • Starting a Business in Syracuse
    Congratulations – and thank you for starting your business in Syracuse!
    This page is intended to provide new business owners with an overview of both the approvals you’ll need from the City of Syracuse to get your business started, and links to the local resources available to new businesses.
        > Local Approvals
        > Local Resources

    Local Approvals
    This section lists requirements specifically for businesses located in Syracuse. You are encouraged to explore the New York State website, to learn about licensing, taxes, and other regulations for businesses at the state level.
    Starting a Restaurant – Permits and Licenses

    The business itself . . .

      Register your “DBA” – If you will be doing business under a name other than your given name, you must obtain a Business Certificate by registering your “doing business as” name. This is done at the County Court House, in the County Clerk’s Office
      Licensing – Certain businesses require a license from the City of Syracuse, including restaurants, bars, drug stores and many other types of businesses. Please refer to the complete list of licenses and applications, and for questions and additional information, please contact the Licensing Coordinator in the Central Permit Office.
      Special Permit – A Special Permit  may be required for certain businesses, such as restaurants, parking lots, gas stations, and several other businesses. To determine if a Special Permit is required for your proposed use in your zoning district, please consult the Zoning Ordinance for your district. You can access the Zoning Ordinances directly, or use the Zoning Atlas to find your property and link to the relevant section of the ordinance. A list of uses commonly requiring a Special Permit (depending on the district), can be found here. Please contact the Zoning Office with any questions.
    The building where you’ll operate your business . . .
      Zoning – The Zoning Ordinance regulates what type of activities, or uses, are allowed on every property, and it regulates the appearance of the property, buildings, and site. To determine if the property where you want to run your business is zoned properly for that use, you can begin by consulting the Zoning Atlas, and then follow the appropriate link to the Zoning Ordinance. For a more formal determination please contact the Zoning Office with the property address. 
      Building Permits and other permits are required if you are planning alterations to the building or site where your business will operate. For questions about building permits please contact the Code Enforcement Staff in the Central Permits Office.
      Change of Occupancy – If the use or occupancy of the building is changing (for example, office space converted to residential units), a new Certificate of Occupancy is required. Code Enforcement will require additional documentation to determine that the building is safe for the proposed new use. For questions about a change of occupancy review, please contact the Code Enforcement Staff in the Central Permit Office.
      Exterior alterations – If you need to alter the exterior of a commercial building, other than minor non-structural improvements and maintenance, you will need Zoning approval. If your business also requires a Special Permit (see above), variance, or other zoning action, your building alterations will be reviewed with that application process. If no other zoning action is required, exterior alterations to a commercial building are reviewed as a Project Site Review. Please contact the Zoning Office with any questions about reviewing exterior alterations on commercial buildings.
      Signage – Zoning regulations determine the size, amount, and type of signage businesses are permitted to display. A sign plan must be submitted to the Zoning Office for review, and if your desired signage does not fall within the regulations, you can change your signage to make it compliant, or apply for a waiver. Please contact the Zoning Office  with any questions about allowed signage. Once approved by Zoning, you or your sign contractor will need a building permit to construct the sign. For questions about the sign permit, please refer to the “How To…” brochure  or contact the Permit Office.
      Home-based business– Some businesses are well suited to operating from your home, particularly if your business involves little if any customer traffic, deliveries, noise, etc. Zoning regulations designed to protect the residential character of Syracuse’s neighborhoods can be found in section C. I. 9. of the Zoning Ordinance, “Home Occupations.”  Please contact the Zoning Office  with any questions about whether and under what conditions your business can be operated from your residence, and the Code Enforcement Staff in the Central Permit Office about possible code review.

    Local Resources   
    This section lists local resources for businesses located in Syracuse. You are encouraged to explore the New York State website to learn about resources available at the state level, including assistance with start-up issues, financing, and technical issues.
          offers a comprehensive list of resources for anyone in Central New York who is starting or growing a business, and provides a wealth of information for business owners. The website is managed by the Onondaga County Office of Economic Development on behalf of Greater Syracuse Economic Growth Council Resource Center, a collaboration of this area’s economic development agencies.
        º Economic Development Partners
        º Incentives and Financing
        º Entrepreneurship
      Small Business Development Center (SBDC)  Located at Onondaga Community College and several other satellite sites, the SBDC provides free business counseling to entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses of all types. Assistance is provided with creating a business plan, developing financial statements and projections, identifying funding and financing sources, market and industry research, legal business entity creation, marketing plan development, and more. One-on-one advisement is provided for personalized support needed to start, expand or re-energize your business.
      City of Syracuse Department of Neighborhood & Business Development  –The Business Development staff assists firms in relocation, expansion, and improvement of business enterprises within the City of Syracuse by providing financing and business assistance services. NBD is also responsible for the certification of Women and Minority Owned Businesses. For more information and a staff directory, please contact the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development.  
      Neighborhood Organizations
        The neighborhood groups listed below can be very helpful to individuals starting or growing a business in Syracuse. Please visit their websites and contact them to learn how they can help you start or grow your business.
        º Downtown Committee
          The Downtown Committee is a private, not-for-profit, professional downtown management organization, representing all property owners and tenants within the central business district. Its mission is to ensure the proper management of the area bound by Interstate 81, Interstate 690, Onondaga Creek, and Adams Street. The Downtown Committee undertakes programs to improve downtown's image, strengthen its economic base, increase its attractiveness, and assure that it's clean, safe, and accessible.
        º Eastside Business Center (Housing Visions)
          Operated by Housing Visions Unlimited, Inc., the East Side Business Center provides a comfortable location where small businesses can grow and thrive in Syracuse's business friendly climate. The Center provides secure access to office and light manufacturing space with free parking, conference rooms, lunch room, loading dock and other common amenities.
        º Near West Side Initiative Small Business Development Center
          Business owners and new entrepreneurs have the opportunity to enroll in the NWS Entrepreneurship Program to help learn more about ways to improve their business or launch a new venture. The NWSI has partnered with the South Side Innovation Center and Onondaga Community College’s Small Business Development Center to provide entrepreneurial expertise for businesses in the program.
        º Northeast Hawley Development Association  
          The Northeast Hawley Development Association, Inc. (NEHDA) envisions a vibrant and safe community where individuals, organizations, businesses and government agencies work together and assume responsibility for resolving problems and increasing the quality of life in the entire community. To accomplish this vision, NEHDA offers a full array of programs that encourage stewardship and improve the quality of life for existing and potential residents, including homeowners, renters, landlords, and business owners. These are implemented through counseling and educational programs, financial services, community organizing assistance, advocacy, housing development and rehabilitation programs, and networking with other organizations.
        º Northside Urban Partnership 
          Formerly known as the Northside Collaboratory, the organization's new identity, Northside Urban Partnership (or Northside UP), better reflects what the organization is about: partnering with other organizations to develop and implement programs that allow Northside UP to improve the quality of life on the Northside. Partnering supportive organizations include St. Joseph's Hospital, Catholic Charities, Centerstate CEO, and Franciscan Collaborative Ministries.
        º Southside Innovation Center
          The South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) provides office space and equipment for new ventures to be created and to grow. Located in a modern facility in Syracuse's South Side, the SSIC serves as a small-business resource center. The SSIC hosts training programs, provides advice on individual business plans, and offers access to mentors and professional contacts-all in an energized environment of entrepreneurial activity.
        º Southwest Economic Business Resource Center
          (SWEBRC) is a “one-stop-shop” facility which provides education, training, development and technical assistance to small minority and women-owned businesses in the City of Syracuse. The center’s primary focus is to provide guidance and direction to assist small businesses with their technical and financial needs.
        º University Hill Corporation
          The University Hill Corporation is a private, not-for-profit organization that unites the educational and medical institutions, religious institutions, businesses, and individuals concerned about the growth and development of the University Hill area. The University Hill Corporation provides staff and technical assistance to the East Genesee Regent Association and the Crouse Marshall Business Association. These organizations undertake cooperative efforts in their districts to improve the commercial viability, appearance, and desirability of these areas. In collaboration with these business groups, the Hill Corporation takes an active role in planning for public improvements, creating special events, producing marketing brochures, and assisting in planning and zoning issues.