DOING BUSINESS IN THE MASON AREA
A Guide for New Businesses
The City of Mason and the surrounding townships of Alaiedon, Aurelius, and Vevay are friendly places to open a new business. Most new businesses can generally open their doors without consulting local authorities. There are no local licensing requirements for most businesses, nor is there a “doing business” permit required by local governments
Local ordinances may impose special restrictions on certain activities. To learn about how specific ordinances may apply to you, contact
City of Mason – (517) 676-9155
(City ordinances are available online.)
Alaiedon Township - (517) 676-9277
Aurelius Township – (517) 628-2093
Vevay Township – (517) 676-9523
The City of Mason and Alaiedon, Aurelius, and Vevay townships are zoned to accommodate planned development. A new business needs to confirm that its proposed business location is zoned properly. Contact the zoning officers at the local governments listed above
The City and townships have building codes. There are many, many requirements and provisions of such codes and they do vary by location. As a general rule, you should contact the appropriate governmental unit and set up an appointment with the building inspector before you plan to construct a new building, remodel an existing building, or change the use of a building. You should also know that codes and ordinances impose various restrictions on signs.
County, State and U.S. Regulations
Ingham County, the State of Michigan and the U.S. government have a variety of laws and regulations that affect businesses. These will vary with each business’s unique situation, but the following are some basic items.
TAXES: Most businesses need to register with the State of Michigan’s Department of the Treasury. A single form allows businesses to register for every Michigan tax, including sales tax, use tax, business tax, withholding taxes, and unemployment taxes. Go to thier www.michigan.gov/treasury
REGISTERING: If you decide to incorporate your business, you must file articles of incorporation with the state.
Please consult with an attorney for details
Corporations may register in Lansing.
You must file a certificate of assumed name (commonly called a DBA for “doing business as”) if you conduct business under any name other than your legal name.
Individuals and partnerships must record the proper certificate with the Ingham County Clerk in the Courthouse in downtown Mason.
Also, be sure to check out their www.ingham.org/cl/Businessfilings.htm
Depending on your type of business, you may need a license from the state.
Hundreds of businesses are licensed in some way, from barbers to doctors to electricians to liquor stores. For licensing questions, contact the state’s Licensing Division at (517) 241-9288 or email@example.com by e-mail.
For basic questions, you may wish to check out their www.michigan.gov/statelicensesearch website.
IRS REGISTRATION: If you hire employees or form a separate business entity, such as a corporation, you must register with the IRS and obtain an Employer Identification Number). You may also want to check out their//www.irs.gov/businesses website.
If you hire employees, a host of other laws and regulations will suddenly apply to you. These include those dealing with civil rights, minimum wage, overtime, OSHA, and more. You will need to put up labor posters. They can be obtained from many sources, but they are also available at no cost from the state’s Wage and Hour Division at (517) 322-1825.
There are also immigration law requirements. Every business must certify that every new employee is lawfully employed and must file a new employee form with the State if Michigan. See your attorney or contact the at (800) 375-5283 for more information or (800) 870-3676 to obtain these forms.
Often Overlooked Costs
A new business should construct a business plan with the aid of an advisor. You need a realistic budget to meet the variety of expenses the business will incur. New business owners often overlook the following: real estate taxes, personal property taxes, workers compensation insurance premiums, sales taxes, payroll taxes, estimated tax payments, utilities (including time for hookup and installation), professional fees, and insurance
Most businesses need premises, personal, and liability insurance. Home-based business owners need to check their homeowner’s policy to be sure they cover damages arising from business use and damage to business assets. Most homeowner policies will require a business rider.
Spreading the News
Every business wants people to know about its products and services. When you put together your marketing plan, you will consider conventional methods such as advertising in the newspaper, shopping guide, radio, television, direct mail, and other paid media for marketing communications.
There are other ways to “get the word out” that involve less money, but are more hands on:
- Hold a grand opening to show off your new business. The Mason Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors will do a ribbon cutting and the local newspaper may print a picture of your event.
- Volunteer for local community projects or join a service club. These are great ways to increase awareness of your business.
- Network with fellow business owners and managers. Attend the Chamber’s “Good Morning, Mason!” meetings, golf outings, mixers, and other events. Meet new people and stay in contact with others in an informal setting.
- Business cards and name badges are great. Also, consider producing a capabilities brochure to describe what you can do for others.
- Advertise your products and services in the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Mason in Motion newsletter.
- Sponsor and participate in community events and programs
We Will Help You
This webpage is a short checklist. You will need more detailed information for your business planning. The Mason Area Chamber of Commerce wants to help you as much as possible. While we won’t have answers to all of your questions, we’re great at directing you to the right person, organization, or agency that will have the answers you need. If you ever have questions or need assistance, do what hundreds of businesspeople do every month and contact us. For questions or assistance, please contact the Chamber by phone at (517) 676-1046 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chamber Membership Value
You have a large number of services and benefits that are available as a part of your yearly membership in the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce:
- Referrals to your business from phone and e-mail inquiries
- Information on business classes and seminars
- Networking opportunities throughout the year
- Featured listing in our various business directories and local phone book
- Participation in the Chamber’s gift certificate program
- Participation and sponsorship of community events
- Ribbon cuttings for your business milestones
- Monthly newsletter to share information
- Discounts through the Member Value Card program
- Bulk mailing service and labels
- A wide variety of other member services and value opportunities for members of the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce
Local and Online Business Resources
SCORE(Service Corps of Retired Executives) links veteran business people with start-up business owners seeking advice. This is a free service offered jointly by the U.S. Small Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce. Check out their www.score.org website.
SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) offers loan guarantee programs for collateral-shy small businesses. Their programs include long-term, fixed-rate financing for public-private partnerships; a Guaranty Program made by private lenders guaranteed up to 80 percent by the SBA; a Micro Loan Program for short-term loans of up to $25,000; and the Low Documentation Loan Program designed to speed approvals on requests under $100,000. Call the Small Business Administration at their Detroit office at (313) 226-6075 or check out their www.sba.gov/starting_business
MEDC(Michigan Economic Development Corporation) provides free customer assistance and small business services for new business owners, including general information on getting started, tax information, licensing requirements, other resources, government financing, and a new employers’ checklist. To access their “Starting a Business in Michigan” guide, go to their www.michiganbusiness.org/start-up/business-assistance/#guidance website
Ingham County Economic Development Corporation provides economic development services to businesses and communities, and provides linkages to other federal, state, and regional agencies that offer related services. Services for businesses include, but are not limited to, facility and site location, business expansion, consultation for new enterprise development, financial assistance, information, technology transfer, worker employment and training resources, and much more. The EDC acts as a provider and coordinator of services that can tap resources across the private, public, and educational sectors. Call them at (517) 676-7210 or go to their www.ingham.org/DV/developm.htm website
Small Business & Technology Development Center at Lansing Community College helps small business owners by providing information and counseling services to: develop business plans; access financing; develop marketing strategies; develop accounting and bookkeeping; assist with personnel matters; and develop computer applications. The Center is funded in part by a grant from the Small Business Administration and many services are provided at no charge. The Center is located at LCC and you can contact them at (517) 483-1921. Also check their www.misbtdc.org/region8 website
Mason Supports Its Businesses
The Mason area welcomes new businesses. The Mason Area Chamber of Commerce presents this “Doing Business in the Mason Area” guide as a way to help you work through the nuts and bolts of setting up shop. It presents a checklist of items you should consider as you decide to open a new business. This brochure does not cover every facet involved in establishing a new business, but it can help point you in the right direction. You should always consult professional business advisors. Many are Chamber members and others may be found through the organizations and agencies listed in this brochure.
Other helpful websites for business startups and entrepreneurs: