why philadelphiademographicsretail neighborhoodssuccess storiesavailable spacestarting a businessnews


"Now because you have so many different places, you have so many choices, people are trying things that are totally different, that they've never even thought they would try, and they're loving it."

KeVen Parker
Owner, Ms. Tootsie's

We want you to succeed as much as you do. That's why all of our knowledge, experience, research and contacts are at your disposal. If any of your questions aren't answered here, don't hesitate to contact your retail concierge Michelle Shannon at michelle@centercityphila.org

One Contact for All of Your Needs
If you are starting a retail business or restaurant in Center City and have specific questions about permits, zoning, services or taxes, contact our Retail Business Liaison, Michelle Shannon. She will be able to point you in the right direction for the resources you require.

Michelle Shannon, SCMD

If you're looking to open a business outside of Center City, contact:

Dawn Summerville, City of Philadelphia Commerce Department

How We Can Help
Many websites exist to help you bring your retail idea to fruition (for example, how to create a business plan, how to establish a business entity, and how to finance your business), so we won't dive into those details here. We're assuming you've got your idea and your business plan, and you're ready to take the plunge. You're the expert at running your business. We can help you get through the approval process and provide you with the information you need to open your retail business or restaurant in Philadelphia.

Click on one of the links below:

Opening a Retail Business
Opening a Restaurant


Financial Assitance For Retailers In Philadelphia

Through a combination of loan, grant, tax credit, and non-financial programs, the City of Philadelphia and cooperating partners offer a wide variety of economic development financing, incentives, and support for new and expanding retail businesses.  A full summary of all types of incentives is available as well.

View more


Work with a broker to find a location that meets your needs. Be sure to find a broker who listens to your specific needs, knows the neighborhoods, and understands the retail market. Visit our Resources page Brokers page for a list of Center City retail brokerage houses.

View more


What Is the Department Of Licenses & Inspections?
The Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) is the chief regulatory agency for the City of Philadelphia. It regulates business activity through the issuance of licenses and permits. The License Issuance Unit processes license requests.

View more


If You Want Additional Assistance

The following organizations stand ready to assist you with your retail or restaurant projects.

View more


The information contained herein is provided for general informational purposes to assist with your planning efforts to open a business.  Because each new business operation is unique, the CCD, its agents or affiliates make no representations or warranties that the information contained in these guides conforms exactly with the requirements for your specific business endeavor.  As such, you should consult your business advisor, attorney, accountant or other professionals, as necessary to assist you with planning a business opening plan and process that is most applicable to your situation."