Image Credit: Jamie Goodin

Starting a Business

Good views reveal great vision. Bring your vision to life in Buena Vista.

We are a City that works, with businesses large and small. We are a City that values education, from our youngest children to the young adults at our colleges. We are a City committed to a bright future in a spectacular location. Because of this, we are the ideal place to start your business. Buena Vista offers a variety of resources to help your business start, grow, and thrive. The tabs below will help guide you from idea to business.

Getting Started

So, you have an idea for a new business. Now what? Use the Business Idea Analysis to determine if your business idea is feasible. Once you have determined feasibility, utilize the Planning Your Start-Up Checklist to get organized. Finally, utilize the Business Plan Outline to assist you in drafting your business strategy.  Doing these three things will assist you in planning and developing your business and will help demonstrate the feasibility and profitability of your business to potential investors and lendors.

The Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center offers Start Smart Workshops and many other resources to help cover the steps to a successful start. Including: registrations, regulations, and the components of sound business planning and financial projections.

The Economic Development Department is always happy to help. If you need some guidance, or just want to chat before you get started, stop by 2nd floor City Hall or contact Kristina Ramsey at (540) 261-8616 or We would be delighted to speak with you!

Choose a Structure

A business becomes a ‘legal entity’ meaning that it can own property, can hold bank accounts, and pays taxes almost exactly as if it were a living citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia. There are several types, however, each with its own benefits and limitations. While it can be changed later, it is far easier to make this decision correctly before going further.

The ‘right choice’ for you is truly dependent on your needs. Get to know the types and make a good decision for yourself. This decision impacts taxes, the relationships between owners, and, legal liability. If the company is sued for personal injury, can the plaintiff sue you personally and take your house, car, and bank accounts? These are important considerations.

Sole Proprietorships are usually owned by a single person or a couple. You’re personally liable for all business debts, can freely transfer all or part of the business, and for taxes, you can report profit or loss as personal income.

Limited Liability Companies (LLC’s) are very popular. You have limited legal liability like a full corporation however, for taxes they’re more like Sole Proprietorships or Partnerships.

General Partnerships let you share profit, loss, and managerial duties among the partners, and each is personally liable for any debt entirely. Members file an informational tax return and income/loss is filed personally. (“Joint Ventures” are short-term partnerships.)

C-Corporations are distinct legal entities, taxed separately from their owners and are generally not favored to own assets that substantially appreciate in value.  While they protect against personal liability, they do not have many of the tax and operating advantages of an LLC or limited partnership, except that lower tax rates may apply to annual net income below $75,000.

S-Corporations are not taxed as a separate legal entity and protect their owners against personal liability, but there are limitations on the number and type of eligible stockholders.  They also have certain less favorable tax and operating advantages than LLC’s.

Register Your Business and Name

Virginia’s State Corporations Commission (SCC) offers an online registration system that can accomplish this task for most users.

  • •Check to make sure your company name isn’t taken, and register your name and trademarks with the federal government.
  • •You should always consult a lawyer if you still have questions.
  • •You can register for SWAM certification if you are a small business (under 250 employees, $10M revenue), woman-owned, or minority owned.

Complete Zoning Verification

Complete Zoning-Verification or Home Occupation form ($15.00) with Department of Planning & Community Development, Room 203 upstairs, (540) 261-8607 or .

Register Your Trade Name

Register your Trade Name with the Clerk of Circuit Court, (540) 261-8627 or Fee of $10.00 must be paid directly to Court, not to City Treasurer.

Obtain a Business License

Obtain a Business License from the Commissioner of Revenue, (540) 261-8611 or

Bring your receipt from the Clerk of the Circuit Court and completed Zoning Verification. Your business license fee will be based on your gross receipts and the rate for your business classification. A minimum license is $30.00. You also need:

  • •Your name and the business name
  • •Business mailing address
  • •Business location address
  • •Business phone number
  • •Federal identification number (forms for applying are available in our office) or your social security number
  • •A realistic estimate of your gross receipts for the first year of business
  • •Photo identification

 What’s your business?  Find your rates
 Contractor  $0.16/$100
 Retail Sales  $0.20/$100
 Repair, Personal, Business & Other Services  $0.36/$100
 Financial, Real Estate & Professional Services  $0.58/$100
 Wholesale  $0.05/$100
 Telephone & Telegraph Service  $0.005/Gross Receipts
 Carnivals  $250.00/per day
 1-3 Machines  $ 50.00
 Over 3 Machines  $100.00
 Peddlers; Itinerant Merchants  $500.00
 Tobacco  $10.00
 Pistol  $20.00
 Distiller  $500.00
 Winery  $500.00
 Bottler  $150.00
 Brewery  $500.00
 Beer Wholesaler  $500.00
 Wine & Beer On  $75.00
 Beer On  $50.00
 Wine On  $50.00
 Wine & Beer Off  $75.00
 Beer Off  $50.00
 Wine Off  $50.00
 Wholesale Wine  $50.00
 Mixed Beverage, Wine & Beer On  $250.00

Get Your Tax Numbers

To obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) visit Virginia’s Business One Stop portal.

To obtain Virginia Tax identification number complete the Business Registration Application with Virginia Department of Taxation.

Make sure you covered all your bases, such as:

  • •Virginia State Sales, Meals & Lodging, Withholding, Litter, and Tire Taxes–Register with the Virginia Department of Taxation for a Sales Tax Number. Forms can be downloaded at
  • •City of Buena Vista local meals and lodging tax–Register with the City’s Finance Director, Room 202 upstairs, (540) 261-8614.
  • •Certain businesses must be licensed by the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Licenses, such as contractors, barbers, cosmetologists, real estate agents, auctioneers, etc. See or call (80) 367-8500.•Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County Visitor Guide
  • •Food service establishments must be licensed and inspected by the Virginia Department of Health. See

List with Local Tourism

Our regional tourism center offers complimentary business listings for everyone holding a current business license.

The information that you provide for this listing is used for print and online resources:
•Lexington, Buena Vista and Rockbridge County Visitor Guide
• and

Find How to List with Regional Tourism here.


Get out and meet people! No matter what type or size business you have, Buena Vista has great opportunities for networking and growing your business connections.

Chamber of Commerce serving Buena Vista, Lexington and Rockbridge County.
Regional Tourism has many networking opportunities available. For more information contact