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Open a Business

Opening a Business in Lake Forest

The City of Lake Forest welcomes your interest in locating your business in Lake Forest. The following information will provide you with an introduction to opening a business in our community.  For personalized assistance, please contact our Economic Development Officer, Susan Kelsey at or 847.613.7005. 

Where can I find Store Space?  Available space is located on this website, in addition, please contact the Office of Economic Development for additional upcoming space.

What do I need to know about zoning?   Lake Forest has special zoning requirements designed to preserve the character of downtown. The zoning includes a rule that limits the number of service businesses to no more than 10% of each block face with in the downtown core. We can provide you with a zoning map.  Do not sign a lease until you have received City approval for your proposed use.

How do I get City approval for my Business?  The City of Lake Forest does not require a business license, however, City approval verifying zoning conformance is required. All City approvals begin with "one-stop shopping" at the main desk of the Public Works/Municipal Services Building, 800 N. Field Drive.  A brief letter outlining the specific nature and proposed location of your business may be delivered to the main desk. The Director of Community Development will review your letter and, within two weeks, you will receive a written response indicating whether you can proceed as you proposed or if you need to obtain a special use permit.

Are other City Approvals needed?  Yes, there are two. First, if remodeling is involved, either you or your landlord will need a building permit. Secondly, Lake Forest's strictly enforces signage standards that require design approval. You can obtain more information from Municipal Services Building, 800 N. Field Drive, or you may contact us at 847.234.2600 for further assistance. 

We look forward to working with you.

220 E. Deerpath, Lake Forest, IL 60045
(847) 234-2600
Non-Emergency Police:  (847) 234-2601

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