idea lightbulb and rockets sparking imagination

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.


  • Create a business plan
  • Contact the city for information on starting a business in Saint Paul
  • Research locations
  • Register your business with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State 

Things to Know

  • Writing out business goals and action steps in a business plan helps potential lenders or investors understand your idea and how your business will be successful.
  • Beyond the financials, be sure to include basic information, such as work experience, days and hours your business will be open, equipment specifications (pizza ovens, copy machines, etc.) and other basic operation plans.
  • The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has loads of helpful information on writing business plans and other aspects of starting a business.
  • Better safe than sorry, we like to say. Before signing a lease or purchase agreement on a location, verify that the space can be used for the type of business you want to open. For example, you don’t want to find out you can’t open a car wash in a residential area, after you’ve already signed a two-year lease.
  • As you look at properties, it helps to be represented by a legal and/or real estate expert. They can assist you in getting the best deal possible and make sure you are legally protected.
  • Sewer Availability Charge (SAC) fees can add significant upfront costs to a project. Contact the Metropolitan Council early for an estimate of these fees based on your location and use.

How the City can Help

  • Contact the City early and often. Our staff is ready, willing, and able to help guide you through the process and help you avoid potential pitfalls.
  • If only the walls of Saint Paul’s historic buildings could talk, they’d be able to tell you if they were designated as a heritage preservation site. Helpful to know, because additional requirements and approvals for such places may be necessary. Fortunately, our City Historic Preservation staff is happy to answer questions.
  • Got zoning questions? City staff can help you understand not only the existing zoning code for a property, but also what your options are if you would like to pursue a special allowance called a variance.
  • You can identify vacant building status by going to the City’s Open Information website. If a building is vacant, talk to City staff about the requirements associated with that designation.

Last Edited: August 24, 2021