Small businesses opening in Woodstock can apply to waive fees for business licenses starting Nov. 1.

The New Small Business Occupational Tax Waiver was approved by the Woodstock City Council Monday night. Under the program, newly organized businesses in a commercial location with less than 10 employees which open in the city qualify, among other requirements, for the waiver of the application, inspection and occupational tax fees for their first year. An occupational tax license, more commonly known as a business license, is required for all commercial and home-based businesses by each local jurisdiction. The waiver program is intended to encourage business owners to consider Woodstock as a favorable and encouraging environment to begin their business.

“Woodstock has been focusing on programs for a few years that help foster a business-friendly community to attempt to grow our employment base,” said Mayor Donnie Henriques in a statement. “From partnerships with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development and Chattahoochee Tech to establish the area’s first co-work space to small business programming support through city supported agencies and nonprofits, we have seen an increase in the community of like-minded individuals looking to establish businesses in the area. We hope that the waiver of these fees is seen as a further incentive to take that next step here in Woodstock.”

The city’s first economic development plan, adopted in 2018, emphasizes the retainment and recruitment of small and medium sized businesses to help reverse the 93-percent out-commute pattern identified by the consultants’ data. Woodstock currently has around 1,350 businesses registered in the city limits.

“We have seen data and heard through conversations in the community that business growth and employment opportunities are a high priority for our residents and their quality of life. Our continued support of programming and removing or reducing barriers of entry to start or grow your business here are very important goals for our elected officials and our management team,” said Brian Stockton, director of the Woodstock Office of Economic Development.

Business license fees in Woodstock start at $85 and are based on revenue. The city estimates approximately 50 businesses should qualify annually for the waiver program based on licenses issued over the previous year. The applicant must submit an incorporation of the business with the Georgia Secretary of State’’s office within the previous 12 months from the date of the occupational tax license application. For more information on starting a business in Woodstock or the waiver program, contact the Development Services office at 770-592-6054 or visit

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Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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