So you want to start a business in Saint Paul?

Congratulations, and thanks for choosing our city! 

Businesses like yours are a valuable part of a vibrant city. The City of Saint Paul wants to help provide you the information you need to succeed. No doubt you’re eager to get going and make your dream a reality. That’s where this resourceful pocket guide can come in handy. Think of it as a road map to help get you from the planning stage all the way to your grand opening— and beyond. In fact, the diagram shown here is a high-level map of the potential paths through the process, start to finish.

Let’s get started!

Step 1 - Imagine It

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Seeing your vision through to the end takes planning, vision, research—and even more planning. But, we know you’re up to the task.

From creating a business plan to thinking about where you want to conduct business (Saint Paul’s west or east side? In a downtown skyway, or somewhere in Frogtown?), we have the knowledge to help pave the way and steer you around potential road blocks.

Step 2 - Make Connections

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As they say, it’s not just what you know, but who you know. So get out there and start to build up a strong, supportive network. You’ll be glad you did.

Check out the neighborhood you want to be in. Walk the streets. Talk to other business owners and city councilmembers. Oh, and don’t forget to listen. Involving neighbors is an important step in building awareness of your business and developing your customer base.

Step 3 - Find Funding

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Your local bank is not the only resource in town. Other organizations are out there willing to show you the money!

Once you have a clear idea of what it may take to operate your business, you can explore options to raise or borrow the funding you need. There are various programs and sources that may be happy to lend you capital. You just have to know where to look and how to ask.

Step 4 - Get Approvals

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There’s a reason for the reviews, permits and approvals. It’s to ensure public health and safety, preservation of Saint Paul’s unique historic assets, and, of course, your overall success! That’s something we can all agree is worth the effort.

The sooner you can complete the applications, and the better organized you are, the smoother the approval process will go. And the fewer surprises you’ll have to face.

Step 5 - Open It

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First off, congratulations are in order. And so are thanks for creating jobs in Saint Paul.

You’ve dreamed. You’ve planned. You’ve secured funding and all the needed approvals. You’re so close to opening your business, you can almost hear that little bell above the front door ringing. Now it’s time to think about new hires and beyond. Before bringing anyone on board, be sure to learn about labor and tax requirements at the local, state, and federal level. And, as you explore ways to grow your business, keep in mind that the city offers all sorts of help, resources and contracting opportunities.

View this information in PDF format:
Download the pocket guide

Download the guide in other languages:
Hmong/Hmoob      Spanish/Español​      Somali/Soomaali

We Are Here To Help!

General questions? Aren't sure where to start? Contact us:
Phone: 651-266-6600

Safety and Inspections

  • Building Permits
  • Zoning and Inspections
  • Site and Building Plan Review

Phone: 651-266-8989

Planning and Economic Development

  • General Business Assistance
  • Financial Assistance Programs

Phone: 651-266-6600

Heritage Preservation

  • Historical Buildings
  • Historical Districts

Phone: 651-266-9078

Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity

  • City Contract Compliance
  • Procurement
  • CERT program for minority-owned, women-owned and small business enterprises

Phone: 651-266-8900

Last Edited: March 4, 2022