City of Detroit encourages more small businesses with easier processes, elimination of some licensing fees







FOR RELEASE: November 24, 2021

Media Contact: Georgette C R Johnson

                    Cell: 313-402-6872

      Email: [email protected]


City of Detroit encourages more small businesses with easier processes, elimination of some licensing fees

  • Council last week approved BSEED recommendation to eliminate licensing requirement for more than 30 types of small businesses
  • City creates “virtual concierge” to streamline licensing process
  • BSEED launches a robust improvement plan with more proactive communications with business owners

Detroit – The City of Detroit last week made several major moves in its ongoing efforts to improve the climate for small businesses to open within its borders.  During its final marathon session of the year, City Council approved the recommendation of the Buildings Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department’s (BSEED) recommendation to discontinue 34 types of previously required small business licenses. The elimination of these licenses will eliminate fees and allow the city to be competitive with other cities in the region.


Among the licenses no longer required are those for bowling alleys, house rental agencies, landscape gardener, pet shop, vending machines, sightseeing buses and more.  Fees for such licenses can cost hundreds of dollars and add weeks to the time it takes to establish a business in the city. 


“Having fewer requirements for certain small businesses owners to operate in the City of Detroit will eliminate potential barriers of entry,” said David Bell, director of BSEED. “Our goal is to make it easier to do business in the City of Detroit while ensuring compliance and health and safety guidelines are still followed.”


Bell pointed out that requirements will remain in place for another 42 businesses for reasons of health, safety and consumer protections.  Some of those include tattoo/body art, shooting gallery, concert & public dance halls, junkyard dealers and more.


Virtual Concierge

BSEED has also launched a “virtual concierge’ for business owners to manage their entire business licensing process in a central location and potentially in one session. Business owners have access to specific requirements for each license including documents, clearances, and fees. There are direct connection links to different departments, when and where needed, during the application process.


The business licensing platform also serves as a communication tool by notifying City clearing departments when a license renewal is due and allows business owners to review the status of each required clearance, including delinquencies and denials. The platform will notify business owners of any failed inspections and license expiration dates at 45 and 15 days prior to necessary filing.


“Communication is key, and we have one source of information that’s streamlined; and all clearing departments as well as business owners now reference that single source,’ said Bell. “We must be competitive with the surrounding municipalities and remove archaic roadblocks to economic success for the City and small business.”


The moves follow others made by BSEED in recent years, including a move from paper-based site plan review to digital online, as well as a redesign of its public offices to help guide visitors seeking services to the right area, based on whether they need help with permitting, licensing, plan review or other BSSEED services.


Below is a full list of eliminated and continued business licenses


The following are licenses to be discontinued:


Archery Gallery/School


Baseball Batting Net

Beverage Retail

Bowling Alley

Branch Candy/Vending Machines

Coin-Operated Game Distributor

Dance Studio

Dry Cleaning:

Laundering Plant  

Branch Store

Ind. Agency (Drop-off)

Ind. Driver

Ind. Plant (Carpet Cleaner)

Furniture Mover

Garbage Rubbish Collector

General Food (Pre-Packaged)

Golf Range


Taxi Dance

House Rental Agency

Instructional Services

Junk Collector (Street)

Landscape Gardener

Laundry Self Service

Location Permit (Coin-op Game)

Motor Bus

Motorcycle Rental Establishment

Pet Shop (Equipment/Supplies)

Sightseeing Bus

Snow Removal (Street/Sidewalk)

Storage House - Public Branch

Track (Bicycle/Go Cart,etc)

Trailer Rental Lot


Vending Machines



The 42 licenses remain part of City code and are required due to health, safety, and consumer protection.



Amusement Park (5 Devices or more)


Bar/Class C


Billiard Room & Tables

Cabaret A-B-C


Cigarette Retail

Circus (Indoor/outdoor)

Concert Cafe (Entertainment/Food)

Gas Station (Full/Self Service)



Public Dance (2 AM/4 AM Closing)

Horse Drawn Carriage & Driver


Industrial Catering

Junk Yard Dealer

Massage Parlor/School

Marijuana Facilities

Motor Truck Permit

Motor Vehicle for Hire (Limousines)

Parking Lot

Public Lodging


Pet Shop (Live Animals)

Restaurant Standard/Carry-Out

Restaurant w/Classic C (MLCC)

Rickshaw/Peddle Cab

Riding Devices (Carnival Rides)

Rink Skating (Indoor/Outdoor)

Rooming House (11 Rooms or More)

Sexually Oriented Business

Scrap Iron & Metal Processor

Secondhand Store/Jewelry/Tires


Shooting Gallery

Sports Stadium

Tattoo/Body Art



Motion Picture (Adult)

Used Auto Dealer (Parts/Wrecking)





For more information, visit BSEED at


BSEED creates safe environments for City residents. The BSEED mission is to provide for the safety, health and welfare of the general public as it pertains to buildings and their environs in an efficient, cost effective, user friendly and professional manner.

BSEED enforces construction, property maintenance, environmental compliance and zoning codes, which preserve and enhance property values and promote a quality of life to make Detroit a preferred place to reside and conduct business.