Skip to Content
  • Contact Us
  • Text Size - Metro Government of Allentown (Print logo)

Starting a Business in Allentown

Sometimes, opening a business in a new City can be overwhelming. Good news! In the City of Allentown, you have professional business ambassadors to walk you through every step of the process! Depending on where you are in the process, different resources are available to support your business. Contact the Office of Business Development at 610.437.7610 or to get started.

Start-Up/Early-Stage Businesses – Business Plan

Early-state and start-up businesses have several options for resources and assistance depending on how detailed the business concept, financial projections, and marketing plan, and legal structure are developed.

Financing/Venture Phase – Financing Strategy

Beyond the business plan, the next most important step is the financing strategy. After utilizing personal banks and financing options, Allentown businesses have access to low-interest loan programs for gap financing to move the business forward. These can be accessed by new and existing businesses, and more details on each program are available here.

Site Selection and Zoning Approval Phase

Prior to opening, businesses need an approved location to operate. Prior to signing a lease or agreement of sale, be sure to check with the Zoning Office to ensure the selected site is approved for the business operation. Other resources are available to find the ideal location once the permitted use zones are determined.

Licensing and Permitting Phase

Opening a business in the City of Allentown requires compliance with several departments to obtain an in-city business license. If you have questions about any step of this process, please reach out to the City of Allentown’s Office of Business development at

  • Step 1 - Zoning: The Business License process begins with the Zoning Office. Business owners should complete the Zoning Permit Application for approval to operate within the permitted uses of the City of Allentown Zoning Ordinance. Businesses can check different city addresses using the City Zoning Colors section of the Zoning Map available here. Additional requirements may apply in Historic Districts.
  • Step 2 – Building Standards and Safety: After receiving Zoning approval, contact the Building Standards and Safety Office to discuss the code requirements for your project. The Building Standards and Safety Office will guide you through the development process and let you know if you need to apply for permits and submit plans. Typically, all commercial plans are required by the PA building code to be sealed by a design professional and require a third-party review prior to submission. A list of third-party review agencies approved by the PA Department of Labor and Industry can be found at For additional information, click here. Once all permits are submitted and work is completed, a final inspection must be scheduled to receive a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).
  • Step 3 - Environmental Health: Certain businesses, including childcare, long-term care, mobile vendors, and food facilities require additional approvals through the Environmental Health Bureau. To become a viable food vendor in the City of Allentown, please contact the Allentown Health Bureau at 610.437.7599. Mobile Vendor Instructions & Application is available here.
  • Step 4 - Pennsylvania Department of State Professional Board: Other business types that require professional licensure must also follow the approval process for the PA Department of State Professional Board. This process varies depending on the type of license, but it should take place concurrently with the city’s approval processes. Learn more information about PA State Professional Licensing here.
  • Step 5 – Allentown Business License: Once all approvals have been received, business owners may proceed with the in-city Business License Application. Return the signed Business Application to the Department of Revenue and Audit.

Operating and Growth Phase

Small business support continues after a business is up and running. Different resources are available depending on the type of technical assistance or support being sought.