Business Assistance Programs & Resources

Business assistance programs are provided through a collaborative partnership among the several City of East Lansing departments, the East Lansing Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and East Lansing Downtown Management Board (DMB). 

Keep scrolling to find information on tax requirements, grant programs, marketing assistance, licensing and permits, promotional events and more!

Business Incubators/Entrepreneurial Support

The Technology Innovation Center, also known as the TIC, is a business accelerator for technology startups and professionals in the Greater Lansing region. It occupies 7,000 square feet of office space, which includes 19 standard offices, two conference rooms and a 3D printer room. Members are provided access to collaborative workspace, programmatic support and vital resources that grow their technology-based startups and early-stage companies. For more information visit:

City of East Lansing Income Tax Requirements

The City of East Lansing has a local income tax. Employers are required to withhold taxes from all employees working within the City. It is recommended that businesses discuss these requirements with their payroll processor or department. In addition, an annual business return is required for all businesses operating within the City. 

More information regarding the income tax is available at

The East Lansing Income Tax Office can be contacted at or (517) 319-6862 to answer questions or provide assistance.

City of East Lansing Permits & Licensing

License and permit forms can be found at

Businesses should ensure they are familiar with all local, state and federal permit and license requirements. Below is a general summary of common licenses and permits applicable to downtown businesses. This is not a comprehensive list of all applicable permits and licenses required to operate a business in the city of East Lansing. 

Curbside Pickup Only Zones

Curbside Pickup Only Zones are designated throughout downtown East Lansing and can be identified by their bright pink signs and/or parking spaces. Customers may use these free parking spaces for up 15 minutes while waiting to pick up a curbside order.

Bailey Parking Lot

Bailey Lot

Division Street Parking Garage

Designated curbside parking in the Division Street garage

300 Albert Ave.

300 Albert Ave

Valley Court Park

Valley Court

300 M.A.C. Ave.

300 M.A.C. Ave

DNA Card

The Daytime. Nighttime. Anytime. Card (DNA Card) is a community eGift card program that helps keep local dollars local. Downtown East Lansing merchants can sign up to participate in the DNA Card program at any time. The DNA card works just like a credit card. 

  • Keep local dollars local
  • Free to participate, free marketing & advertising
  • The program is open to all merchants within the DDA District (map)
  • Participating merchants are included in City-sponsored BOGO campaigns

To get started, businesses can visit and click "Apply to Join" at the bottom of the webpage.

For more information on the DNA community eGift Card, visit the following link here.

Downtown Materials & Waste Management Program

To make the best use of limited storage capacity, provide centralized waste disposal services and maintain a clean downtown, the East Lansing DDA finances the operations for the Downtown Materials & Waste Management Program (DMWM Program). Through the DMWM Program, the DDA operates five City-owned materials and waste management rooms in each of the 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500 block alleys. 

The rooms provide space to store multiple four-cubic yard waste and recycling containers. Adjacent businesses, residents and other types of tenants can choose to participate in the DMWM Program. Participants of the DMWM Program are provided electronic key fobs to access the rooms and dispose of their waste and recycling materials in the containers. The containers are serviced by a third-party waste hauler.

For more information on the DMWM Program, please see the following link here.

Downtown Marketing & Promotions

Marketing a business is critical to maintaining visibility to the public, educating new and existing customers, increasing revenues and growing the downtown. The City's marketing and advertising strategies are focused on establishing collaborative partnerships with local stakeholders to provide engaging, consistent and effective messaging and promotions. Downtown marketing and promotions are funded by the DDA and DMB. 

Downtown events are designed to attract shoppers, diners and visitors to downtown East Lansing. The success of these efforts relies heavily on active participation by businesses and promotion of these activities. 

Regular events in the downtown include the Albert EL Fresco, Community Chalk Walk, East Lansing Art Festival, East Lansing Farmers Market, East Lansing PRIDE, Greater Lansing Area Moms (GLAM) Jam Summer Kick Off, Great Pumpkin Walk, Izzo 5K, Moonlight ExtravaGRANDza, Moonlight Film Festival, MSU Homecoming, MSU Drawing Marathon, Summer Concert Series, Thursday Game Nights featuring live music and Yoga on Albert.

Follow Downtown East Lansing on Social!
Facebook:  @DowntownEastLansing
Instagram:  @downtowneastlansing
Twitter:  @DowntownEL

Grand Opening Assistance

Upon request and availability, City staff can:

  • Market and promote grand openings on social media handles. 
  • Collect digital content to assist with marketing and promoting new businesses
  • Draft and issue a media release about new businesses
  • Connect businesses to various downtown stakeholders and City resources
  • Assist with navigating regulatory compliance for business grand openings 
  • Allow businesses to utilize up to two (2) wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube men for use at their grand opening events
Three young people cut a ribbon in the doorway of a brick building
A small child looks up at a waving inflatable balloon

Social Media Giveaways

Businesses that are interested in boosting their reach and visibility on social media may benefit from the Social Media Giveaway Collaboration Program, which helps businesses by cross promoting a giveaway on both the business social media handles as well as the DMB’s downtown East Lansing handles. Staff will promote a free giveaway campaign on downtown’s social media handles and those that like, tag two friends and follow both the business and downtown social media handles are eligible to win a free giveaway provided by the participating business. An example of a previous collaborative instagram giveaway is below:

Social Media Collaboration Example

Downtown Parking Validations

A 40% discount is available for merchants that validate customer parking. These validations are available for purchase in packs of 25 or through a billing program. Download Validation Parking for Downtown East Lansing (PDF) or call (517) 337-1277 for more information. 

Check out our Express Pay in Lane Parking Tutorial:

Financial Assistance Programs

Please visit the Financial Assistance & Incentive Program webpage for more information:

Street Closure Request Program for Businesses

In order to increase downtown foot traffic and foster an inclusive and vibrant streetscape, the City of East Lansing has established the Street Closure Request Program for Businesses in collaboration with the East Lansing Downtown Management Board. This program allows businesses to close down the street in front of their businesses for special events or other temporary placemaking initiatives.

Staff are available to provide various forms of assistance to businesses who would like to apply under this program, including:

  • Technical assistance throughout the application process
  • Assistance with site plan development
  • Providing infrastructure to support events (seating, games, etc.) upon timely request
  • Social media marketing assistance for any events/initiatives upon timely request 

The Street Closure Request Program for Business Application can be viewed here: Street Closure Request Program (PDF)

Temporary Outdoor Dining Area Expansion Program

To continue to support economic recovery efforts for local restaurants, East Lansing City Council approved a policy resolution to extend the streamlined approval process and temporarily eliminate the application fees for businesses that wish to expand or establish new outdoor dining areas through November 15, 2023.

For more information on the Temporary Outdoor Dining Area Expansion Program, please see the following link: