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How to Start your Business in Athens

Incorporate your Business

The first stop to starting a business is to register the new entity with the Georgia Secretary of State. Follow the application instructions on the state website and find your preferred corporate structuring.


Register New Entity


Determine a Location

The common mantra in real estate is “location, location, location.” If you plan on finding a commercial space to operate your business, an experienced agent can be a serious advantage.

Before making a decision on any building leases or purchases, verify the property zoning with the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department at (706) 613-3515. This will also be necessary in the section below when filing for your Business Occupancy Tax Certificate.

Receive your Business Occupancy Tax Certificate

After you find an operating space for your business you will need to file for your Occupancy Tax Certificate (also referred to as a Business License). This allows companies to operate their businesses in Athens. This applies to businesses that plan on operating out of a commercial or residential space. They are valid for the calendar year in which they are applied and first time applicants receive a prorated rate beginning July 1st.


Occupation Tax Walkthrough

Occupation Tax Application

Development Procedural Manual

The Athens-Clarke County Economic Development constructed a manual for companies that wish to develop a plot of land within Athens-Clarke County. If interested, please view the following manual here.


Find a Contractor 

Some spaces are move-in ready and don’t require additional input. Others may need some adjustments in order for specific layout needs to be met. Our member base holds some of the prominent contractors in the region to help provide the best renovating options.


HVAC Maintenance

Many landlords require that the tenant take maintenance responsibility for the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit. These firms provide the necessary HVAC Maintenance contracts that may be required by any landlord.


General Liability Insurance

General Liability Insurance, also known as Business Liability Insurance, helps protect your business from claims resulting from normal business operations. This type of insurance may be required by a landlord.  Athens has agents capable of making your business more secure and mandating a plan.


There are three power firms that operate in Athens-Clarke County. If power needs to be transferred contact these firms and find the best rate.

Georgia Power
(888) 660-5890
1001 Prince Avenue, Athens GA 30606

Jackson EMC
(706) 548-5362
85 Spratlin Mill Rd, Hull, GA 30646

Walton EMC
(770) 267-2505
2061 Hog Mountain Rd, Watkinsville, GA 30677


If a buildings water/sewer services need to be transferred it is handled through the Athens-Clarke County Water Business Office. Contact the office about switching over services or to learn more about the water conservation program, Certified Blue.

Athens-Clarke County Water Business Office
(706) 613-3500
124 E. Hancock Ave, Athens, GA 30601

Small Business Development Center Resources

The Small Business Development Center is a great resource for those looking to start a business in Athens. They offer a variety of classes, training programs, articles, and other information geared to those looking to dive into entrepreneurship.


SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, and is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. They provide a wide range of services to established and budding business owners alike, including mentoring, webinars and courses on demand, a library of online resources, and local events.

Join the Chamber of Commerce!

Once your business is established, the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce can assist you with scheduling a ribbon cutting to celebrate your grand opening, increase your online and local visibility, create partnerships with other businesses and the community at large, offer cost-saving benefits, and more! Fill out the online application or email We look forward to partnering with you.

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