Everything You Need to Know to Start a Business in Mt. Vernon

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No one ever said starting your own business would be easy, but the dividends of being your own boss and bringing your vision to life will be worth it. Now that you have a complete business plan, you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work building your business.

Some of the first things you need to cross off your list include securing a great place to house your business and then making sure you have all the right city, state, and county licenses and permits.

Wading through all the red tape, applications, and city codes can be a challenge. But you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. We’ve compiled all the resources you need to get your Mt. Vernon, Washington business up and running in one, convenient guide.

Business Licenses and Permits

In order to conduct business in Mt. Vernon you need to properly license your business. Mt. Vernon requires a general business license, but if your business is based out of your home or a day care there are additional permits required.

In order to start the process, you need to obtain a Unified Business Identifier (UBI) from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Next, you can either download a Business License Application, or fill one out in person at City Hall. Applications for Home Occupation permits and Day Care Provider permits are also available at City Hall.

City Hall
910 Cleveland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273

(360) 336-6214

All Mt. Vernon licenses are valid for one year, and all renew annually on January 1. There are three classes of business license, and different fees associated with each. Fees range from $30 per year to $120. If you plan to conduct business on a temporary basis, you can get a temporary permit for just $5 that allows you operate at one location for 48 hours or less.

If you are starting your business after July, the city wants you to call (360) 336-6202 to discuss possible proration of the annual fee.

Construction and Zoning Guidelines

When it comes to making sure your place of business meets all city and county ordinances, Mt. Vernon’s Community and Economic Development Department is available to help with every step of the process. From promising to review commercial civil and building plans within two to four weeks, to guaranteeing inspections within 24 hours, Mt. Vernon wants to make it easy for you to go into business in their town.

To make navigating zoning and construction permits as simple as possible, the city has put together all the applications, forms, and handouts, zoning maps, and applicable municipal code right on their website. Part of Mt. Vernon’s permit process is a required pre-application meeting with staff prior to submitting your permit(s). The purpose of the meeting is to allow city staff to outline the process for various types of permits and make sure that you have all the information needed to submit a complete application.

Pre-application meetings are held every Tuesday at the department of Community and Economic Development. However, to make sure you are on the agenda, you need to submit a pre-application meeting request at least two Mondays before your scheduled Tuesday meeting.

There are three city departments you may need to work with in regard to zoning and construction. The Planning Division oversees long-range land use planning, legislative actions, zoning compliance, and annexation proposals. The Building Division monitors building code compliance and inspection, building permits, plan review, and regulation enforcement. Finally, the Engineering Division is responsible for approvals and inspections, fill and grade permits, lot certifications, sewer permits, and boundary line adjustments.

Smart Business Solutions

Getting through all the rules and regulations means you’re one step closer to finally open your doors for business. But before you can do that you need to set up the right infrastructure to support your business operations. Some businesses may only require a fast, reliable Internet connection and cell phone they can count on. Others may require broader business solutions that include data storage and backup, a PBX phone system, and around-the-clock technical support.

Be sure to rely on your business plan as you explore infrastructure options. It’s also smart to contact a well-known local provider that can guide you to the options that make the most sense for your business and your bottom line. They may even offer bundling options that give you more bang for your buck.

Ongoing Support and Resources

Once you get your business off the ground, you may still have questions or encounter unexpected developments. Mt. Vernon knows that it takes a huge amount of support to nurture a new business, and they’ve put the resources in place to support fledgling and existing businesses.

The Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce has a whole division committed to business resources. Their Tools for Business webpage includes everything from help evaluating your business idea to a Business Entity Wizard that assists with determining the best legal entity for your business.

There are also several networking opportunities where you can learn and benefit from others Mt. Vernon business owners. The Downtown Business Association not only provides the chance to meet other owners, but also provides help understanding things like the Business and Occupation Tax. You can also contact the Director of Community and Economic Development directly for any business need.

Jana Hanson, CEDD Director

(360) 336-6214


Image by Dmitry Zuev via Flickr