New Business Checklist

Thank you for considering Shaker Heights for your business. The City of Shaker Heights will work hard to ensure that you have a positive experience from finding the right location to celebrating your presence and community contributions. To help you with the process of opening your business, we’ve put together this New Business Checklist, which can serve as a resource guide to get you started. (Prefer to download this checklist? Click here for a PDF version.)

Location, Location, Location

Finding the right location for your business is essential. Consult the City’s available commercial properties or review our Home Based Business information. The Economic Development Department can also assist you with your location search. The staff has an in-depth knowledge of each district and can point you in the right direction.


Confirm the property’s zoning classification to make sure that your business use is appropriate for your new location. You may need a Conditional Use Permit or Variance, so it is best to find out this information early in your location search. Call the Planning Department at 216.491.1435.

 Commercial Project Review

This Review is a courtesy to help business owners effectively plan their project, receive next step instructions and feedback in an effort to save all parties time, energy and money. The Review process includes an application that, when complete, is shared with the Building, Planning and Fire Departments before an in-person or virtual meeting is scheduled. Contact the Economic Development Department to schedule a Commercial Project Review. Keep in mind that eventually, you will most likely need to hire an architect to secure permits.

Business License

Every business must have a fully executed Business License (also called a Commercial Occupancy Permit) before moving into a commercial building. Apply online; if you have any problems using the online system (CitizenServe), contact the Building Department at 216.491.1470. The Building Department will proactively work with you to ensure compliance with the Ohio Building Code.

Interior or Exterior Renovations

Most likely, renovations will require permits, contact the Building Department at 216.491.1470 BEFORE starting any demolition, construction or system upgrades to discuss your plans and determine next steps.

Food Sales

If your business includes any food or beverage sales or preparation, contact the Cuyahoga County Department of Health at 216.201.2000 to determine which permits and/or inspections are required as soon as possible.


You need it! Contact the Planning Department at 216.491.1435 for zoning and design guidelines. Also, be aware that 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.

After You Open

Once you are settled in, here is some helpful information…

Business Communications

Stay informed! Contact us if you would like to receive our monthly email Business Newsletter for Shaker business owners and our quarterly Economic Development Community Update sent to the broader Shaker community. Please let us know if you have news to share or ideas to improve these newsletters.

Business Associations

Meet your fellow Shaker business owners! Join one of our active business associations, including: Larchmere, Chagrin+Lee and Van Aken District. Email Nick Fedor at the Shaker Heights Development Corporation to learn about the next meeting.

Shaker Life Magazine

Hyperlocal marketing opportunity! Here is the link to the quarterly Shaker Life magazine, including the advertising information. Shaker Life is both print and digital media. To place an ad, email or call John Moore at 216-721-4300.

Shop Shaker

Shop local campaign here! We have both a Facebook and Instagram page. Please reach out to me either via phone or email if you would like me to share any specific information at any time.

Heights-Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce (HRCC)

Network and learn new things or spruce up your skills! HRCC serves a six-city region - check out the website or reach out to Executive Director, Karen Schaefer, via email or phone at 216-397-7322.

Contact Us

Please contact the Department of Economic Development at any time with questions, concerns and suggestions. Email us or call 216-491-1335.

Laura Englehart
Economic Development Director

Katharyne Starinsky
Senior Economic Development Specialist

If you prefer, you can download a PDF version of the New Business Checklist.