Going into business requires several steps

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 17, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Those looking to open small businesses in the Miss-Lou have a few steps to navigate before they can do so. In Natchez, those include the following:

Getting clearance from the city&8217;s planning department. Approval from planning-related commissions &8212; site plan approvals, zoning variances, sign permits and the like &8212; may be necessary.

Call the department at (601) 445-7518 or visit it on the second floor of city hall, 124 S. Pearl St., during business hours.

Email newsletter signup

Contacting the inspection department for information on building permits needed for construction or renovations, as well as for certificates of occupancy.

The inspection department also issues technical licenses for businesses engaged in such activities as construction, electrical, plumbing and air conditioning.

The inspection department is located in the basement of city hall. Go by or call at (601) 445-7512 during business hours for details.

For certain types of businesses, such as restaurants, getting food and/or health permits from the Mississippi Department of Health. Call the department at (601) 445-4601 or go by during business hours at 415 U.S. 61 N.

Apply for a Mississippi sales tax number from the State Tax Commission. Call (601) 833-4761 for more information.

Once the above steps are done, getting a privilege license. The license must be renewed annually and costs $20 or more, depending on the number of employees and assessed value of inventory.

Those starting businesses inside the city should apply for privilege licenses at the City Clerk&8217;s Office on the first floor of City Hall. Go by during business hours or call (601) 445-7501 for more information.

Businesses locating outside the city limits should contact the Adams County Tax Collector&8217;s Office at the Adams County Courthouse on State Street or call (601) 442-8601.

A telephone survey of other mid-sized cities in Mississippi revealed that most have similar steps for starting new businesses.

Also, most did not have, as the Natchez City Clerk&8217;s Office does, a handout checklist of steps needed to start a business.

The exception was the City of Tupelo, which even has a checklist and some of the required forms on its Web site.

Louise Peabody, owner of new Natchez linens store Intimate Home, said she found starting a business in Natchez to be easier than starting one in a big city such as New Orleans.

&8220;City (personnel) were approachable here,&8221; Peabody said. &8220;You can get to City Hall, and you don&8217;t have to wait in line forever. They act like they want to help you start a business.&8221;

In the parish

Potential business owners in Concordia Parish have to take similar steps.

First, you need a federal tax identification number.

&8220;I went to the Web site and got it right then,&8221; Edwards said.

Well, then you have to deal with getting state certification to be a business.

&8220;I drove to Baton Rouge and got a temporary license that day,&8221; she said.

Finally, you must go through the grueling process of getting an occupational license from the city.

&8220;We had just missed the (Vidalia Board of Aldermen) meeting, so we had to wait a month for that,&8221; Edwards said.


OK, so it&8217;s not that grueling.

Even though there are a couple of other steps, which include building permits &8212; where necessary &8212; and making sure an existing rental building is zoned for business and adheres to fire and handicap-access codes, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said the town doesn&8217;t want to hinder its entrepreneurs.

&8220;We try to be business-oriented,&8221; he said.

Salon, restaurant, bar, flower shop, medical or any other state-regulated business owners really do have sizable hurdles to navigate before their small business dreams can be achieved, so do your homework before starting out.