Roanoke Revealed

Getting legal with a business in Roanoke County

Getting legal with a business in Roanoke County

Landing in Virginia marked the first time I tried to transfer a business from one state to another (a NYS LLC and DBAs). I felt dumb about the things that challenged me with this process, so hope to help you avoid some of the mistakes I made.

Licensing was a requirement I had never encountered before. What puzzled me most was the revenue collectors for various mandates – even in the same agency with different locations – don’t speak to each other nor see it as their job to understand how it all fits together.

It’s tough to find what you’re looking for on the county websites because they’re bloated. Using the search boxes tend to send you to irrelevant portions of the site or the homepage of a different agency without pointers to what you seek.

I was fortunate meet Jay Brenchick, Roanoke County Economic Development Manager, at a chamber gathering. He kindly helped me get pointed in the right direction even though his job title specifies larger businesses.

Putting the business organization steps in the right order

DBAs (Doing Business As) are filed at the court house in Salem. If you don’t have a corporate entity (S Corp, C Corp, LLC registered with the State) but have a business(es) with a name(s) not yours, you need one (or more). Park on a side street as there’s no building lot available for public parking. Leave your cell phone in the car. They’re not permitted in the building and oddly, there is nothing set up at the security check point to hold forbidden items during your visit.

Roanoke County Circuit Court, 305 East Main Street, Salem; (540) 387-6205.

Corporate entities (S Corps, C Corps, LLCs) are handled at the State level (http://www.scc.virginia.gov/index.aspx). Customer service there is pretty decent, so if you’re unclear on the costs or forms required, call them.

Phone: 1-866-722-2551

You’ll need a sign off from Zoning next. Get familiar with the rules and regulations, particularly if you’re in a residential zoned area and have a building separate from your house (or more than 10% of your house) you’re considering for business operations. Hearings, advertising and approval process hoops add up quickly so know what you’re in for before you claim this intent.

Phone: (540) 772-2068; 5204 Bernard Drive, Roanoke, VA 24018

Licensing for the county occurs in Cave Spring (http://www.roanokecountyva.gov/index.aspx?NID=449). Before you go there, you’ll need documentation from either the County Clerk’s office (Salem) or the to prove your business exists.

Phone: (540) 772-2050; e-mail: pcalvert@roanokecountyva.gov (good luck)

If you’re doing home-grown produce retail sales, you’ll be sent to the Cooperative Extension (3738 Brambleton Avenue SW) phone: (540) 772-7524 to get a “Grower’s Permit”. There are no longer inspections due to funding cuts, but if that’s the business you’re in, getting this sign off waives licensing (but not DBA) fees.

What’s the cost to establish a business in Roanoke?

Estimated costs for being legal in Roanoke County include:

  • DBA: $15/ + $2 to certify a copy (if you need it for your banker or the State)
  • State Corporate Registration: $75 plus attorney fees (up to 25,000 shares) on up
  • Licensing: Starting at $50/ if revenues are under $100K per year
  • Zoning: nothing if you conform to standard requisites; fees starting at about $800 if a hearing is necessary.

Given my experience through this process, I understand why some might choose to gamble on forgoing municipal fees (and, more importantly, time) to be fully legal as a startup. I don’t recommend it. Hopefully the above will save you some of the time and headaches borne from lessons learned so your method is easier.   

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