How To Open A Business In Downtown Kenosha

When it comes to doing business here, Downtown Kenosha, Inc. would like to help you succeed. We are excited to introduce new businesses to Downtown and can offer a wealth of resources from property scouting and business plans to finance programs and marketing assistance.

#1 Write out your idea.
Develop and Write a Business Plan - A concise and well thought out business plan establishes a good foundation for long-term business success. It will help outline financial obligations, define your target market, and develop your vision and projections for the growth of your business. If you already have a business plan, consider getting some insight from local professionals that can help you stay on track or update it. There are also a variety of classes available through the Small Business Development Center and UW-Parkside that can prepare you to be a successful business owner. Resource Partners: #2, #3, #7

#2 Make it legal.Downtown Kenosha on the shores of Lake Michigan
Register Your Business – Properly registering your business with the appropriate agencies/jurisdictions will help prevent delays further down the road and it will help you understand your legal obligations as a business. Examples including choosing the correct structure for your business and filing for a Tax Number or Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. As with any legal matters, work with a trusted attorney or legal advisor. Resource Partners: #2, #3, #6

#3 Choose your location.
Identify Available Properties/Sites - Understand and identify where the business should be located, what properties are available, and how much it will cost. Is your plan to purchase a building or rent a space? Have you budgeted to upgrade the space and purchase necessary equipment or furniture? Answering these important questions provides clearer focus on the overall business plan and how the business fits into the overall fabric of downtown. Resource Partners: #4, #8

#4 Make sure it's the right location.
Request a Property Inspection - Once the site for the future business has been identified, and before you sign a lease, talk with the property owner about previous use of the property, what you plan to use the property for, what is needed for your business and what needs to be done to the building. Next, have this same conversation with the City of Kenosha Department of Community Development and Inspections to determine if the property is zoned appropriately for the new use and if the new use will trigger any specific code related improvements. Finally, submit an occupancy application, co-signed by the property owner, to the Department of Community Development and Inspections to have the property inspected to identify the specific structural, electrical, mechanical and plumbing code improvements required for your business. Resource Partner: #1

#5 Review your budget.
Research and Confirm Financing Options - The first four steps outlined above provide a good understanding on the costs associated with the proposed business venture. This should help in determining how much equity is needed to get started and provide further guidance if financial assistance or 'gap financing' is needed to help cover start-up costs relevant to real estate, inventory, etc. Be realistic about your budget, and make sure you have enough cash to cover at least one year of operating expenses. Resource Partners: #2, #3, #4, #8

#6 Make it your own.
Build out the Space - If the first five steps have been successfully checked off, it's time to build out the space and assemble the inventory. Building permit applications for required structural, electrical, mechanical and plumbing code improvements should be submitted along with scaled drawings to the Department of Community Development and Inspections. Once the build-out is completed, and prior to opening your doors, a follow up inspection to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy must be completed. Resource Partner: #1

#7 Get Ready for Customers.
Get Ready for Opening – It's time to implement the marketing side of your business plan and get further acquainted with the Downtown community, neighbors, amenities, and networks that will help the business thrive. The Downtown Kenosha, Inc. office can introduce you to other business owners, assist you in writing a press release, publicize your grand opening event, and help spread the word about your new business. Resource Partners #5, #6, #8

#8 Start selling.
Open Your Doors - Grand openings grab attention and are special events. Involve the Kenosha Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Kenosha Chamber of Commerce to help promote the business, create promotional opportunities, and coordinate any grand opening functions that may be appropriate. Resource Partners: #5, #6, #8

9. Start making money!
Implement Your Business Plan - The business venture has only begun. Remember that it takes businesses some time to become profitable, and be sure to review the business plan and financial statements on a regular basis to stay on track. The SBDC, WWBIC, SCORE, Downtown Kenosha Inc., and other organizations are available to help you become a successful business in Downtown Kenosha, so don't hesitate to ask for support. Resource Partners: #2, #3, #7, #8



  1. City of Kenosha Department of Community Development & Inspections | (262) 653-4030 | Website
  2. Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-Parkside | (262) 595-3362 |Website
  3. Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) | (262) 925-2840 | Website
  4. Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) | (262)605-1100 |Website
  5. Kenosha Area Convention and Visitors Bureau | (262) 654-7307 |Website
  6. Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce | (262) 653-1234 | Website
  7. Service Corps Of Retired Executives (SCORE) | (414) 297-3942 | (262) 653-1234 |Website
  8. Downtown Kenosha, Inc. | (262) 925-3463 | Website

Want your downtown business included in our directory? Contact us for more information!