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Starting a Business Downtown

Entrepreneurship is a journey — In Downtown Lansing, there are countless resources and opportunities to help small business owners get started and continue to thrive.

Step 1: Start the Process

  • Reach out to Downtown Lansing Inc. to set up a conversation with our helpful staff. We can provide information and data from our Comprehensive Market Analysis to evaluate how your business may fit within the community’s identified needs, and discuss available real estate for lease or purchase.
  • Identify funding needs and meet with appropriate funding sources. This can be done in coordination with the City of Lansing, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Lansing Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, etc. (Find their contact information below.)
  • Gather building permits and conduct a site review with the City of Lansing
  • Schedule an inspection with the City of Lansing Fire Marshal. This is especially important when there is a change of use for the space.
  • Research appropriate licensing and permitting needs for your business, including obtaining a business license from the City of Lansing
  • Evaluate Zoning/Special Land Use requirements with the City of Lansing
  • Gather or create architectural drawings and a layout of the facilities 

Step 2: Plan the Process

Step 3: Prepare to Launch

Step 4: Open and Maintain Your Business

DLI has been an incredible support for A Novel Concept, whether through programming or a chat over coffee.

Elise Jajuga and Christine Peffer, Owners of A Novel Concept

Helpful Contacts

Capital Region Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The Capital Region SBDC provides one-on-one counseling, training, and research to assist small businesses. The SBDC can guide you through the business development process and connect you with critical resources.

Laurie Lonsdorf, Regional Director

Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce is a membership-based organization dedicated to helping employers and businesses in the region grow through business education and networking; enhancing member visibility; and advocacy initiatives.

Contact Form

Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP)

LEAP is an economic development organization that helps businesses of all sizes locate and expand in the Lansing region. You can partner with LEAP for guidance with funding assistance and advocacy efforts.

Emma Bostwick, Director of Business Attraction
[email protected] 

City of Lansing, Planning & Permitting Office

The Lansing Planning Office manages business development through effective planning and zoning practices. Contact their office to discuss any approvals needed before you open.

Sue Stachowiak, Zoning Administrator
[email protected]

Zach Driver, Commercial Corridor Specialist
[email protected]

Andy Fedewa, Principal Planner
[email protected]

Stephen Bezold, Planner
[email protected]

Ingham County Health Department (ICHD)

The ICHD provides permits and licensing as well as inspections for food-based businesses. All food and beverage based-businesses should contact the ICHD before building, to ensure they have all the proper equipment.


Fire Marshal (City of Lansing)

The City of Lansing’s Fire Marshal team provides inspections prior to purchasing, leasing, or opening your business. This is especially important when there is a change of use for the space.

Jared Nisch, Fire Marshal
[email protected]

Alyssa Hagle, Fire Prevention Administrative Assistant
[email protected]