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Starting a New Business in Rochester

Starting your own business is truly the American Dream, and the City of Rochester in New Hampshire is one of the best places to make your dream come true.

New Hampshire has been named 7th in the US for Economic Freedom and 1st Most Livable State. The City of Rochester is anticipating sustained and consistent population and business growth throughout the decade.

Though the rewards are extraordinary, starting a business takes time and patience, hard work and perseverance, planning and organization. It will take commitment to get your business off the ground and planning to ensure operations run smoothly. 

To get you started we’ve listed some of the basic steps of starting a business with links to some of the resources available to you.

Step One: Create a Business Plan

Starting a business off on the right foot is an important step to achieving your dreams.  Planning and organizing your strategy is the first of many steps to making the dream a reality.
Please visit the following websites for information on creating business plans and more start-up information:

New Hampshire Small Business Development Center

Step Two: Permits – Local Licensing – Code Enforcement

The structure your business assumes is important in determining your limitations and liabilities. Depending on the type of structure you choose, additional paperwork may be necessary to establish the business in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Secretary of State Corporate Division is responsible for the statutory filing of business entities, trademarks and trade names and numerous miscellaneous filings.

The Division is responsible for recording all required information regarding Business Entities and making this information available to the public.  

Place the cursor over the business entity type in the following list for a brief description of each of the principal types of legal business structures available in New Hampshire. Your accountant or attorney can help you decide what type of business structure best fits your needs.

  • "C" Corporation
  • "S" Corporation
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership
  • Limited Liability Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company

Each of the above has legal, tax, and practical consequences that may require the advice of an attorney and/or CPA. You may contact the NH Bar Association website or call them at 603-224-6942 for a listing of attorneys.
For information on licensing at the local level, contact the staff of the Code Enforcement Department at 603-332-3508.

Step Three: Funding

All businesses require some form of financing. An integral component of starting a successful business is raising sufficient capital. There are many challenges here, but numerous resources are available to help you.  While the state of New Hampshire does not provide outright grants to companies, there are several public sources for debt and equity and private venture capital possibilities.
Use the links below to view some of the resources available to you:

Local Bank & Financial Institutions:

Public Sources:

Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA)
(603) 226-2170
New Hampshire Business Finance Authority (NHBFA)
(603) 271-2391
New Hampshire Community Loan Fund
(603) 224-6669
New Hampshire Small Business Administration
(603) 225-1400
U.S. Department of Agriculture
(603) 223-6045

Certified Development Corporations

Every area in the state is served by a Certified Development Corporation which provides long-term, fixed rate second mortgage loans for capital investment through the SBA 504 Loan Program:

Capital Regional Development Council
P.O. Box 664, Concord, NH 03302-0664
Phone: (603) 228-1872

Granite State Economic Development Corporation
1 Cate Street Eldridge Park, Unit 5, P.O. Box 1491
Portsmouth, NH 03802-1491
Phone: (603) 436-0009

Southeast Economic Development Corporation
Cocheco Falls Millworks
100 Main Street, Suite 101
Dover, NH  03820
Phone: (603) 749-2221

Private Venture Capital Sources:

Borealis Ventures
(603) 643-1500
CEI Community Ventures Inc.
(207) 772-5356
(603) 623-5500

Information on Angel Investment Groups 

Kauffman Foundation
Angel Capital Association

Local Funding Resources

Many local and regional revolving loan funds exist throughout New Hampshire. These funds have been capitalized from a variety of services, many with federal monies. The administration of these funds is generally handled by a non-profit corporation, while the local funds most often are overseen by governing bodies with the help of a loan committee. The loans may be used in conjunction with other sources to leverage additional monies or independently finance the project.

The City of Rochester has the following funding options available:

JOB Loan Program – The City of Rochester’s JOB opportunity Loan Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through a Community Development Block Grant.  If you would like to apply for a JOB Loan: Download brochure and application

Sign and Façade Improvement Program Download brochure  and download application 
To help with the challenges businesses face when they want to make important sign and façade improvements, the City of Rochester offers two types of financial and technical assistance for business or mixed-use property located in the downtown.

Step Four: Choose a location

Choosing a location can be a challenge, and the best location will depend upon the type of business you are starting. Some businesses can even be “home-based”. No matter where in Rochester you are going to locate, please complete a “Letter of Intent” for the Planning Department letting the City know of your plans to operate a business. This letter allows the Planning Staff to determine what (if any) review is appropriate. Download Form

Rochester has many professional Commercial Realtors and you can search for a Realtor and listed business sites at www.nhcpe.com.

The State of New Hampshire has a free real estate listing service for either commercial or industrial space or land. www.nheconomy.com/newnedds/

In addition, the Economic Development Office attempts to maintain a current list of Commercial Vacancies in the Downtown Core (view current downtown vacancies) and available Industrial and Commercial properties throughout the City.  Visit the Rochester Main Street website for more information on downtown Rochester.

Step Five: Register Your Business with the State

Business registration information for the state of New Hampshire may be obtained by contacting:

Secretary of State
107 N. Main Street
Concord, NH 03301
271-3244 or 271-3246
E-mail Address: corporate@sos.state.nh.us

Business Name Registration information

Some professional and business licenses may be applied for online at: http://nh.neinetwork.com
List of all licensed occupations in New Hampshire: http://www.nhes.nh.gov/elmi/products/licertocc/index.htm

If your business is serving food, contact Health and Human Services' Food Protection Division at 603-271-4589 or e-mail Food Protection Division. For information on local licenses contact the staff of the City of Rochester’s Code Enforcement Department at 603-332-3508.

Step Six: Taxes

The Department of Revenue Administration is in charge of the collection of state taxes, such as the Business Profits Tax or the Enterprise Tax. Depending on the type of business you are operating, you may need to apply for a tax operator’s license. Select here for more information about tax operator's licenses.

Business organizations that have expenditures made during the fiscal year for qualified manufacturing research and development may be able to benefit from the Research & Development Tax Credit.  Please visit the following link for further information about the Research & Development Credit.

Step Seven: Hiring Employees

If you will be hiring employees, please contact the New Hampshire Employment Security Office and the New Hampshire Department of Labor. You must register with this Department to cover unemployment benefits.
• Telephone number: 603-228-4424
• Website address: www.nhes.state.nh.us
• Look under Employers
• Then under Unemployment Compensation
• Then Click on “Forms & Publications”
• Then select and fill out:
- “The Employer Status Report” (This is for your state ID)
- “The New Hire Report Form”

If you have further questions, call 603-229-4349

The Economic Development Office will be happy to assist you if you should require further assistance with getting started. Please call to make a confidential appointment at 335-7522.