Business Assistance

The City of Ithaca is committed to preserving and expanding existing businesses, and recruiting and incorporating new businesses into the city's economy. Economic development is accomplished through the Planning and Economic Development Division and the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency (IURA). The Economic Development Office is a part of the Planning and Economic Development Division. 

Opening a Business

The first step in starting a business in the City of Ithaca is often to contact the Building Division at 607-274-6508. Their friendly staff can guide you through the necessary paperwork and permits needed to complete your project. Keep in mind that each business situation is different, which may involve several different processes. 

If you are interested in opening your business in an existing building, then the process may be as simple as obtaining a Building Permit Application Form (PDF). If you are planning a new or significantly modified structure and business type, Site Plan Review may be required. This process is completed by the Planning Division, in conjunction with the Building Division. For further information about commercial development in the city of Ithaca, please contact the Deputy Director for Economic Development, using the contact information on the right. The role of the Deputy Director is to expand and develop our local economy into a thriving center of activity.

Note: The City of Ithaca Code, Section 325-3, includes an ordinance relating to home occupations. This ordinance outlines those personal services that may be considered home occupations. This is not intended to authorize retail uses in any residential zoning district.

Deputy Director's Responsibilities

The City of Ithaca's Deputy Director for Economic Development:
  • Arranges and facilitates meetings with appropriate local and state officials or with public utility companies, who would have an interest in a project
  • Arranges site visits or tours of the city's commercial districts
  • Facilitates zoning, Site Plan Review, environmental review, and any other City council, board, or committee issues facing a project
  • Packages and promotes available state/local incentives and financial assistance programs
  • Provides demographic and economic information for the city and surrounding area

Informational Resources

Local Economic Resource Guide (PDF): This resource guide will introduce you to a variety of programs which can help you achieve your goal of opening and expanding a business in Ithaca's dynamic setting.