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Start a Business

Baltimore City is an exciting place to start and operate a business. We have many resources to help you get started and be successful. Whether you plan to open a restaurant or launch a new biotech firm, Baltimore City is ready to help you – we’re OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

On this website you will find:

Business Guides – featuring specific business guides to permits, licenses and other approvals you’ll need to open and operate certain businesses.

Business Resources – links to numerous City agencies, quasi-agencies and partners involved in all aspects of economic development and business support.

Permit & License Catalog – an index of the various permits and licenses issued by Baltimore City that small businesses may require.

Overview Of Baltimore’s Growing Economy

With over 12,000 businesses in Baltimore – from international corporations to home-based start-ups – Baltimore’s growing economy is dynamic and diverse, offering a wide variety of business opportunities. Baltimore is a leader in the sectors of healthcare, education, tourism, life sciences, technology, arts & culture, financial services and maritime commerce. With world-renown universities and medical institutions, Baltimore attracts the best and the brightest, ranking among one of the nation’s highest areas of concentration for residents with advanced degrees. The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) oversees the City’s economic growth, job creation and revitalization efforts. BDC also offers certain incentives and financial assistance for qualifying economic development projects, business relocations, and business expansions.

Innovation And Opportunity

According to the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, the Baltimore region has experience a 31% increase in its gross regional product since 2001, reaching $138 billion in 2009. In Baltimore City, innovation and opportunity continue to fuel steady economic expansion and entrepreneurial growth. The City’s business incubator program at the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) promotes economic development by providing start-ups with business, technical, and networking connections that will help them to become profitable. ETC companies cover a wide range of technology and biotech sub sectors, including software development, e-commerce, Web development, network integration, telemedicine, and pharmaceuticals. The ETC is a division of BDC.

In addition to the ETC, the City’s Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) offers entrepreneurs and small business owners assistance on how to start and grow a business. The SBRC also hosts seminars for minority and women-owned business in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Business Development (MWBD).  The SBRC is a division of BDC.

The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) coordinates and directs workforce development initiatives responsive to the needs of Baltimore City employers and job seekers in order to enhance and promote the local economy. MOED manages a network of career centers and integrated employment programs. MOED also provides business services including no cost job postings, outreach and recruitment to name a few.

Thriving Retail Districts

Baltimore is a “city of neighborhoods”, each with a unique history and sense of place. Retail and commercial districts are an integral part of Baltimore neighborhoods. Many neighborhood retail corridors have seen a resurgence in recent years with new shops, restaurants and other amenities. In addition to the dozens of thriving neighborhood commercial areas, the City operates ten (10) official Main Street Districts as part of Baltimore Main Streets, a City program modeled on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's National Main Street Center’s four point approach to commercial revitalization. Baltimore Main Streets provides customized support and public resources to designated neighborhood business districts. Baltimore Main Streets is a division of BDC.

One of Baltimore’s fastest growing neighborhoods is Downtown. Downtown has seen a dramatic increase in the number of new residents over the past decade. With an abundance of professionals and students living and working in Downtown, it is an exciting place to start a business. To check out the latest economic development news and information on special events in Downtown visit the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc.


Tourism is one of the Baltimore’s most vibrant and expanding economic sectors. Since the completion of the Inner Harbor, Baltimore’s reputation as a world-class tourist destination has continued to flourish. Baltimore welcomes over 20 million visitors each year, spending over $4 billion and supporting over 70,000 jobs making tourism one of Baltimore’s largest employment sectors. From professional sporting events, including Ravens and Orioles games, to world-class attractions like the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the Maryland Science Center, to historical landmarks like Fort McHenry, Baltimore is place with something for everyone. For more information on Baltimore tourism go to Visit Baltimore, the official destination development and marketing organization for the Greater Baltimore region. For additional information on the Inner Harbor and the waterfront visit the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc.

Arts & Culture

In addition to the numerous tourist attractions, Baltimore boasts a rich assortment of art and cultural resources from art museums to live theatre. According to a study, Seeding the Vision: Creative Baltimore published by the Jacob France Institute, Baltimore ranks 17th in percentage of “creative class” population and is the first industrial city to begin a transformation into a city with a creative-based economy. Baltimore is home to three designated Arts and Entertainment Districts – Station North, Highlandtown, and the recently established Bromo Tower District – all with great opportunities for aspiring artists and creative class businesses. These districts provide special incentives for artists and entertainment venues as well as a vibrant social network aimed at promoting artists and cultural organizations.


Here's what businesses are saying about Baltimore:

“I could not be happier with the work of Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s administration to work with food truck vendors to promote our business in the city. The City of Baltimore is obviously open for business.”

- Patrick Russell, Owner of Kooper’s Tavern, and operator of Kooper’s Chowhound.

Read the full press release

“Pixelligent is excited to establish its manufacturing operations in the city of Baltimore to begin supplying current customer demand.

We have been impressed with the tremendous outreach from everyone at the BDC and the Mayor’s office, and appreciate all of their support and assistance in helping Pixelligent take this next critical step in our evolution.”

-Craig Bandes, President & CEO of Pixelligent

Read the full press release

“We are appreciative of all of the city agencies that played a part in the successful opening of Lenny’s Deli Harborplace.”

- Alan Smith, Owner of Lenny’s Deli Harborplace.