Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

General Questions

How can the Charlottesville Office of Economic Development assist me as I start my new business?
We can provide you with demographic information about the City and its residents so that you can determine if there is a market in Charlottesville for your products/services. We can also help you begin to develop a business plan and connect you with local organizations (such as the CVSBDC) that can assist you in reviewing and finalizing your plan. Additionally, our office can provide a list of organizations that may be able to provide funding and give you information about upcoming seminars/workshops for small businesses. We can also help you locate a commercial space for your business within the City. Please do not hesitate to CONTACT US if you have questions or need assistance.

What are the steps for starting a new business?
For a step by step list on starting a business, please CLICK HERE. We also offer a business startup packet that includes a CD-ROM containing demographic information about Charlottesville and business planning software. We also offer one-on-one business consulting. For more information about these services, please EMAIL or call us at 434-970-3110.

I’m looking for commercial space for my business in Charlottesville. Can you help me?
Our SITES AND BUILDINGS page offers a searchable online database of commercial properties that are currently available for sale or lease. For further assistance, please EMAIL or call us at 434-970-3111 for an appointment and we will be happy to assist you.

How can I sell my products or services to the City of Charlottesville?
You will need to become a registered vendor with the City. To complete your registration online, CLICK HERE. More information about registering as a vendor is available on the Procurement and Risk Management WEBSITE.

Can you tell me whether the business I am looking for is in the City of Charlottesville or Albemarle County?
A list of the streets in the City is located on our website under the Commissioner of Revenue page (http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=45).

Albemarle County also has a road name index under the Department of Community Development (http://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/webapps/roads/).

How can I get more information about property located in the City?
Information is available using the City’s GIS system. Users are able to view many different kinds of information including how parcels are zoned, assessed property values, New Market Tax Credit areas, etc. If you need assistance using this website or have other questions regarding property located in the City, please EMAIL or call us at 434-970-3110.

Licensing and Permitting

What licenses and permits are required to operate a business in the City of Charlottesville?
For a step by step list on starting a business, please CLICK HERE. Before starting a business in Charlottesville, you will need to obtain a City business license. CLICK HERE to download a business license application, or contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office at 434-970-3160. Other permits and licenses also may be required, depending on what type of business you plan to run and whether or not you are operating under a trade name.

Does the City have sign requirements for businesses?
Yes. To review regulations and permit requirements, which can be found under 4) Administrative Requests, CLICK HERE. Please contact the Neighborhood Development Services (NDS) for specific information at 434-970-3182.

Do I need a business license to operate a home-based business?
Yes. First, you will need to obtain a Home Occupation Provisional Use Permit from Neighborhood Development Services. For further information, contact NDS at 434-970-3182, or CLICK HERE for an application. Once you have received this permit, you can then apply for a Charlottesville City business license. CLICK HERE to download a business license application, or contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office at 434-970-3160.

How do I become a vendor on the Downtown Mall?
In order to set up a table/cart/stand on the Downtown Mall, you need to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness from Neighborhood Development Services. For further information, contact NDS at 434-970-3182 or via EMAIL. After you receive permission from NDS, you will need to obtain a City business license. CLICK HERE to download a business license application, or contact the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office at 434-970-3182. Other permits and licenses also may be required, depending on what type of business you plan to run and whether or not you are operating under a trade name.

Small, Woman-, and/or Minority-Owned (SWaM) Business Questions

What kind of assistance is available for SWaM businesses?
First, it is important to understand the definitions of a SWaM business. Small businesses are at least 51% independently owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens, have 250 or fewer employees, or average annual gross receipts of $10 million or less averaged over the previous three years.

Women-owned businesses are at least 51% owned by one or more women who are U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens.

Minority-owned businesses are at least 51% owned by one or more minority individuals who are U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens and belong to one of the following ethnic groups: African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, or Native American.

For more information regarding these definitions, visit the Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprise HERE.

Resources for SWaM businesses are listed on our MINORITY BUSINESS ASSISTANCE page. 

How do I register to become a SWaM certified business?
SWaM certification can be completed online through the Department of Minority Business Enterprise (DMBE), CLICK HERE. This is a free certification that takes about 1 hour to complete and approximately 4 to 6 weeks to process. If you need help with this process, please EMAIL or call us at 434-970-3117.

Financing

Does the Office of Economic Development offer grants or loans for businesses?
At this time, we do not offer direct funding for businesses. We will work with your business to help identify possible funding opportunities based on the classification of your business.

Where can I find money to finance the start up or expansion of my business?
The FINANCING A SMALL BUSINESS page includes information about the Small Business Administration’s Loan Programs. It also provides information about the CIC’s new microloan program that is being offered to individuals who are interested starting their own business and/or expanding their current business. Our office can also provide you with a list of local institutions that may be able to provide funding.

Existing Business

What is the Business First program?
Business First is a program designed to help us understand your needs, address your immediate concerns, and build strategies to solve long term regional barriers to profitability. For more information, click the BUSINESS FIRST VISITATION PROGRAM page.

I am a current business owner in the City and have some questions relating to my business. Who should I contact regarding this?
One of our main goals is to assist existing businesses. We look forward to the opportunity to interact with local businesses. Please EMAIL or call us at 434-970-3110.

Who should I contact in order to have graffiti removed from my business property?
Please contact Neighborhood Development Services at 434-970-3182 to request their Graffiti Removal Agreement. For more information on this process, visit the Graffiti Violations page at the NDS WEBSITE.

DEMOGRAPHICS & DATA

Where can I find Community Profiles for the area?
Under BUSINESS DATA on our website you will find some of key statistics on Charlottesville and our area. If you prefer more detailed analysis, VEDP has both Community Profiles for Charlottesville and Albemarle County, and MSA Profile for the Charlottesville region.

If you are looking for more employment data, then the Virginia Workforce Connection also has Community Profiles on our area that has more employment analysis.

Who are the largest employers in the area?
Using information provided by the Virginia Employment Commission, we update the largest MSA employers on a quarterly basis. CLICK HERE to view this most recent list.

Where do I find information on cost of living for Charlottesville, such as Consumer price Index (CPI) or Cost of Living Index (COLI)?
CLICK HERE to view current CPI data listed in our most recent current Economic Indicators document. To view current COLI information, visit our QUALITY OF LIFE page.

I’ve looked at the demographic information and other data on the website and still have questions. Who can I contact to help me find the answers?
Please contact us by sending an EMAIL or calling us at 434-970-3717.

I have read all of these Frequently Asked Questions and still do not have the answer I am seeking.

Please EMAIL or call us at 434-970-3110.