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Business Assistance

Business Assistance

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is the state’s main resource for funding and incentive programs available for businesses looking to expand, locate to the area, and increase trade. Assistance can also be obtained through the Illinois Small Business Development Center located in the McHenry County College Shah Center for Corporate Training at 4100 W. Shamrock Lane in McHenry, IL. The City of McHenry does also offer some unique opportunities to McHenry businesses on an as-needed basis.

Guide to Opening a New Business in McHenry

The following is an overview of the process to open a new business in the City of McHenry.  Questions on finding an available location can be directed to the Economic Development Department, Doug Martin, Director at 815-363-2110 or Dorothy Wolf, Economic Development Coordinator at 815-363-2175.  Questions on the planning and zoning process can be directed to the City Planner Cody Sheriff 815-363-2181.

  1. Find a location and set up a free walk-through inspection: When a location is found, call the Community Development Department at 815-363-2170 and set up a walk-through inspection.  This is a free inspection at the proposed location with our building and plumbing inspectors to discuss the type of business and construction needs as well as to identify zoning and life-safety issues at the location.  It is best to schedule this inspection before signing a contract for space to be sure zoning and construction needs can be met for your business at the location.
  1. Staff review and zoning approval of use: City staff will prepare a list of corrections, needs, code violations and life-safety issues identified at the walk-through inspection for your review.  If the proposed use (i.e., type of business) is compatible with the zoning district it will be located in, staff will give you directions as to what permits, inspections and licenses are required or needed.  It is imperative that all life-safety issues be addressed prior to occupancy.  If the use does not comply with the existing zoning, you will be contacted regarding further steps that need to be taken in order to obtain proper zoning by the City Planner.
  1. Zoning approval by the Planning & Zoning Commission: If the proposed use does not comply with the existing zoning, a Planning & Zoning Application Checklist has been developed to assist business owners in applying for any development action requiring a public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission, including Map Amendments, Conditional Use Permits, Zoning Variances and Minor Variances, and Zoning Text Amendments. A typical development action will take from 45 to 90 days to process.  A preliminary draft of the application forms and attachments should be submitted to City Staff for review before finalizing the application to ensure that the application forms have been completed correctly and all required attachments have been included.  After receiving confirmation from the City Planner, a petitioner can proceed by providing the requirements outlined in the checklist. To be considered for scheduling before the Planning and Zoning Commission, all required application forms and attachments must be submitted to the City Planner according to the schedule in the checklist along with appropriate fees. A public hearing date will be confirmed only if all application forms have been completed correctly, all required attachments have been provided, and all application fees have been paid.
  1. Occupancy Certificate: Once all items identified in the walk-through inspection are completed to the satisfaction of the City and an Occupancy Request Form has been submitted by the business owner, a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued.  The business can now occupy the building/space.  However, if a business license is required, the business cannot begin operating until all appropriate business licenses are issued.
  1. Business License Issued: Following approval on zoning and issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy, appropriate business licenses will need to be obtained.  Information and processing of Tobacco Licenses, Liquor or Video Gambling Licenses, and Ice Cream Truck, Pawn Broker, Massage Therapy, and Solicitors Licenses  are managed by the Mayor’s Office. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Deputy City Clerk Monte Johnson at 815-363-2108.  Information and processing of Electrical Licenses and Certificates of Occupancy can be obtained by contacting the Community Development Department at 815-363-2170.
  1. Wireless Alarm Monitoring: If it is determined in your planning process that you are required by the building code to install a fire alarm system, please contact the Community Development Department at 815-363-2170 to begin the application process to connect to the City of McHenry’s Wireless Alarm Network. Detailed information may be obtained in Title 6, Chapter 3 of the City’s Municipal Code.
  1. The City has developed a website called that will help market your business and provide one location for our residents to obtain all the information they need to shop local and support McHenry businesses.  This website is FREE for you and will be supported by advertising campaigns and local sharing in conjunction with a Shopndinemchenry Facebook page and Instagram page.  Once you are in your location simply go to and Add Your Business.  Call Dorothy Wolf 815-363-2175 if you have questions.