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). 

Download the East Lansing Business Resource Guide (PDF)

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

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. 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.

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.

Downtown Marketing & Promotions

Marketing your business, especially now with COVID-19, 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. Marketing and promotions are provided specific to downtown 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, East Lansing Art Festival, East Lansing Farmers Market, Game Night, Great Pumpkin Walk, Izzo 5K, Moonlight ExtravaGRANDza, Moonlight Film Festival, MSU Homecoming, MSU Drawing Marathon, Fashion Fiber Festival, Summer Concert Series, Winter Glow 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 

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. Examples of past social media giveaways in Appendix C of the Downtown East Lansing Business Resource Guide (PDF)

Downtown Parking Validations

A 40 percent 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

Current East Lansing financial assistance programs targeted to businesses include, but are not limited to:

  • Façade Improvement Grant Program
  • Outdoor Area Expansion & Beautification Grant
  • Property Owner Assistance Program for Basement Backup Protection 
  • Small Business Relief Grant

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

Survey Data

View active and closed business feedback surveys here: