In Rock Island, it’s easy to open your business. The City and the Downtown Rock Island Partnership staff will take the time to answer your questions and get you started. The Downtown Rock Island Partnership has several programs that may help you start, build, and grow your business. Please visit their website at: DowntownRockIsland.org
This list is designed to be a quick checklist to help you along the way.
A building or structure may not be erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, converted, or demolished unless a separate building permit has been obtained from the City of Rock Island Inspection Division. Building permit fees are based on the replacement value of the construction or renovation.
Change of use or Type of Occupancy
The City of Rock Island Inspection Division is responsible for the regulation of changes of use or occupancy. If the most recent use of the space was for a different type of commercial use, such as converting office space to retail sales, contact Inspection Division to discuss whether or not alterations may be required and to arrange an inspection to issue a Certificate of Occupancy.
Coin Operated Game Machines, Video Games, or Pool Tables
A business must apply for a license for coin operated game machines, videos, or pool tables. For more information please see the City of Rock Island City Clerk.
Construction in the Public Right-of-Way
The City of Rock Island Public Works Department is responsible for the regulation and inspection of construction in the public right-of-way. For more information regarding construction, such as concrete flatwork or excavation in the public right-of-way, contact Public Works.
The City of Rock Island Inspection Division is responsible for the regulation and inspection of any installation, alteration, or change of electrical wiring in the city. All individuals need to obtain an electrical permit prior to conducting electrical work.
Food and/or Beverage Sales
An annual food and beverage license is required for all food service establishments and retail food stores operating in the City of Rock Island and is issued by the Health Inspector.
The City of Rock Island charges a user tax of $.03 on retail and bulk purchases of motor fuel within the city. (For example, a trucking company with its own fuel tanks would be a bulk fuel user.) See the City of Rock Island Finance Department for the appropriate forms.
The business is responsible for contracting with a private garbage collection firm to secure a dumpster or garbage pickup. There are several competitive companies that offer this service.
Gas and Electric Service
Electric and natural gas service is provided by MidAmerican Energy. If the services have been turned off for several months, contact the City of Rock Island Inspection Division for a utility turn-on inspection.
Hazardous Materials Permit
The City of Rock Island Fire Department requires businesses that handle, use, make, sell, generate, or store hazardous materials or hazardous wastes, to obtain a hazardous materials permit. During the fire department’s annual fire inspection this year, a short inventory will be taken of the types and quantities of material on your premises. From this assessment a hazardous material fee will be generated.
Rock Island has many historic buildings and some are local landmarks. If you have questions about how to restore a building contact the City of Rock Island Planning & Redevelopment Division.
Internet, Cable and Telecommunications
There are many providers in town to meet your needs with phone line, broadband, and wireless connections including cable, and satellite dish, AT&T, Direct TV, Mediacom, Geneseo Communications and Dish Network.
J.U.L.I.E. (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators)
Anytime you plan to dig, whether it’s a small or a large construction please call 48 hours prior to digging. JULIE will notify the owners/operators of underground facilities who are JULIE members of this planned digging activity and the areas will be marked. Contact JULIE at 1.800.892.0123.
Land Use Regulations
Land Use Regulations are administered by the City of Rock Island Planning & Redevelopment Division. A Zoning Variance is necessary when a proposed development cannot comply with the applicable zoning regulations. For example, problems such as exceptional narrowness, inadequate depth, or irregular shape would be considered impractical conditions, which may require a Zoning Variance. A Special Use Permit is necessary when a resident wishes to use his/her property for a purpose that is not permitted in a particular zoning district.
Liquor licenses are required for businesses planning to sell alcohol, wine, or beer. The mayor serves as the liquor commissioner. Contact the mayor’s office for an application at 309.732.2012.
The City of Rock Island Inspection Division is responsible for the regulation and inspection of any design, construction, installation, quality of materials, location, operation, and maintenance or use of heating, ventilating, cooling, refrigeration systems, incinerators, and other miscellaneous heat-producing appliances. All individuals need to obtain a mechanical permit prior to conducting mechanical work.
The occupancy limit needs to be visibly posted for most commercial uses. For more information contact the City of Rock Island Fire Marshal.
The City of Rock Island Code of Ordinances is available online here. If you have questions about an ordinance, please contact the City Clerk.
The downtown parking system is designed to serve the needs of the local business customers, tourists, and downtown employees. The goal of the system is to maintain a fair balance between all of these competing needs. Click here for information about downtown parking including maps, city parking ramp, and parking permits.
Park & Rec
Rock Island Fitness & Activity Center (RIFAC) has employee membership programs that provide a discounted fee for qualifying businesses.
The City of Rock Island Inspection Division is responsible for the regulation and inspection of any installation, alteration, or change of plumbing in residential and commercial structures. All individuals need to obtain a plumbing permit prior to conducting plumbing work.
The City of Rock Island Police Department has a security awareness program designed to reduce the incidence of crime by having a police officer assist local businesses locate security weaknesses, then offer practical suggestions for correcting them.
There are three main townships in the City of Rock Island – Rock Island Township, South Rock Island Township, and Blackhawk Township. To learn what your property tax assessment would be, contact the township assessor .
Registering a Business
A business needs to register if it is under an assumed name – using any name other than your last name – at the Rock Island County Clerk’s Office.
Curbside recycling is available for businesses from the City of Rock Island Public Works Department.
The amount of sales tax collected in the City of Rock Island is 8.50% for purchases of retail items and services. Contact the Illinois Department of Revenue or click here for tax papers and other tax information. In addition, a 1% sales tax needs to be paid for all prepared food and beverages. Contact the City of Rock Island Finance Department.
A business should submit their new sign for review to the City of Rock Island Planning & Redevelopment Division. The sign must comply with the Sign Ordinance and a business needs to obtain a permit from the Inspection Division.
Storm Water Control
The City of Rock Island Public Works Department is responsible for the regulation and inspection of storm water control functions as they pertain to new construction and other land disturbing activities citywide.
Storm Water Utilities
All developed properties in Rock Island, except public streets, will pay a Storm Water Utility charge based upon an estimate of the property’s impervious area. These are usually hard surfaced features such as rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, patios, parking lots, and awnings. For more information contact the City of Rock Island Public Works Department.
Contact the Illinois Department of Revenue or click here for tax papers, tax ID number, or other tax information.
Water and Sewer
The City of Rock Island Public Works Department is responsible for operating many of the water and sewer functions within the City of Rock Island. Water service may be initiated or terminated at City Hall (first floor).