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Starting A Business
Park West Place Shops Credit: Visit Stockton / Barberstock

Find a Location

Choosing a business location is one the most important decisions a small business will make. It involves researching demographics, assessing inventory needs, scoping the competition, staying on budget, and understanding state laws, taxes and local ordinances.

Location & Zoning

Decide on a location for your business and check zoning with the San Joaquin County Community Development Department (CDD) before registering. If you register your business before choosing a final location, you will have to update your registration with the new address. This can cost money and time.


One of the first steps in evaluating the suitability of a particular site for your business should be to check with the San Joaquin County CDD to determine which kinds of land use approvals and/or permits might be required. The San Joaquin County CDD Geographic Information System website provides detailed information on zoning, General Plan designation, and parcel details. A parcel number or address is required to research specific parcel information.

San Joaquin County CDD planners are available to answer questions about permits, zoning and land use, neighborhood and area plans, and more. The San Joaquin County CDD can be reached at (209) 468-3121 and is located at 1810 East Hazelton Avenue, Stockton.


Commercial and Industrial Locations

Leasing commercial office space can be expensive for new and expanding businesses. It is important to understand the range of costs before signing a lease. Below are some tips for negotiating a commercial lease.

Leasing Commercial Space


Very few spaces are business ready. Be sure to consider costs like tenant improvements, IT system upgrades, maintenance and repair fees, and other costs.

Ask about ADA Compliance

Landlords are required to make public restrooms and ground-floor entrances/exits accessible, or give you notice if the space may not be ADA compliant. Other aspects of ADA compliance will be your responsibility, and you should consult with a CASp (Certified Access Specialist) to help determine the cost of any required improvements.

Negotiate the Lease

Research similar sites in the neighborhood so you can show your landlord the market costs of nearby sites. Reviewing multiple sites gives you power to negotiate the lease in your favor.

Include Contingencies

When negotiating a lease, make sure it is flexible enough, or specifically allows for delays in case it takes longer than expected to obtain your permits.

Understand the Lease Clauses

Read through all the important clauses in your lease, including how rent is calculated and quoted, the term of the lease, the start date of the lease, and what happens if the landlord decides to sell the property.

Plan an Exit Strategy

If you can, negotiate a lease that allows you to transfer your business to a new owner, just in case something happens to cause your business to fail. The clause that allows you to transfer your lease is called an assignment clause.

Be active in the Community

Take time to talk with neighboring merchants and consider joining a local merchant association. Don't underestimate the power of community support.


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