Starting a business

The Village of River Forest is a great place to start and grow your business. If you are interested in opening or expanding your business, you are encouraged to contact the Village at your earliest convenience. The Village can help usher you through the process of opening your business whether it's answering questions like "How do I apply for a building permit" or "Where can my employees park."

Things to consider

Businesses are encouraged to consider and contact the Village before entering into any contracts regarding:

Zoning and Permitted Uses

The location you choose must be zoned for the type of business you wish to operate. To determine whether your business in permitted in the area you seek to locate, consult the Village Zoning Map and Village's Land Use Chart.

Questions regarding land use and permitted uses should be directed to the Building Official or to 708-714-3557.


Generally, 1 parking space for each 2 employees is required in the C1, C2 and C3 zoning districts. Additional requirements are as follows:

  • Restaurant - 1 space for each 100 square feet of public floor area
  • Retail, Office or Service - 1 space for each 400 square feet of public floor area
  • For businesses in the C3 District between Lathrop, Lake, Park, and a line 1/2 block south of and parallel to Lake, no off street parking is required.

Building Permits

Building permits are required for most construction work. Learn more about the steps in the building permit process. 

Business License

A business license will allow you to conduct business in the Village of River Forest.

Certain specialty licenses such as a food handler’s license are included on the business license application. If applying for a food handler license please provide proof of your State Food Service Sanitation Certificate along with the application. Before a license can be issued the Village Administrator's Office will verify your business is permitted for your proposed location.

Download and complete a business license application. It should be returned to Village Hall with the appropriate payment.


All permanent signs located on the exterior of the building or window require a permit. Learn more about signage requirements.

Visit the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce for an opportunity to connect with other local businesses.