Doing Business in Williamstown

Establishing a Business
The Town of Williamstown’s dedicated staff is here to help anyone interested in starting a business, growing, or relocating their current business to Williamstown. We hope this page can answer some basic questions about doing business in our community. However please note that any specific inquiries can be directed to our Community Development Director, Andrew Groff. Andrew can assist with providing more detailed information about how the town can be of assistance to your business and can help with site specific issues that could arise. He can be reached via email or by calling (413) 458-9344

Getting Started

Business Certificates
The Town Clerk’s office issues business certificates for registering a business in Williamstown. A business certificate is commonly referred to as a D/B/A form or a "Doing Business As" form. A business certificate is needed if you are doing business under a name other than your own personal name. These are generally required before opening bank accounts in the name of the business.

New for profit and non-profit corporations must register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of MA. This can be done on-line at the Secretary of State's Office. Existing corporations and trademarks in MA can be searched on-line at the Secretary's corporate divisions section of their website.

Locating in Town & Town Permitting

Finding a Site
The Community Development Office maintains a list of available commercial properties in town and can assist you with identifying sites that could potentially host your business. Please contact Community Development Director Andrew Groff (413) 458-9344 for more information.

Land Use Permitting
It is important to confirm that your business will be located in the proper zoning district, additionally every zoning district is different. Some districts and some business types may require permits from the Zoning Board or Planning Board. Many business types are also allowed as home occupations. Certain developments, depending on location may also require permits from the Sign Commission, Historical Commission or the local Conservation Commission, if located near wetlands. Community Development Director Andrew Groff can help business owner’s work through these issues. Once a possible site, and a business plan is established, Andrew and Community Development Staff will develop a scoping letter for your proposal. This document serves as a road map for all types of development projects in Williamstown and is intended to guide business owners through any land use permitting process, ensuring a fair, equitable, and straightforward permitting process for all stakeholders.

Building Permits
The Building Department arm of our Community Development Office issues permits for building construction, plumbing, electrical, and gas piping. Our Building Officials, Commissioner Ryan Contenta, and Local Inspector Robert Rosier, can be reached at (413) 458-9344. Community Development Assistant Sarah Hurlbut can also assist you basic information regarding our online permitting system for building and specialty trades permits and with coordinating times to meet with the inspectors.

Health Permits
The Health Inspection arm of our Community Development Office issues various public health permits, including those needed for wells, septic systems, food establishments, hotels, rental units, and pools. As a key part of the Community Development Office the Health Inspector and the Board of Health are involved in reviewing proposals for new, expanded, or relocated businesses at the earliest stage of proposal development. Health Inspector Jeff Kennedy, (413) 458-9344, works closely with applicants to ensure the Board of Health’s requirements are satisfied and proposal can proceed. This process can generally occur concurrently with any needed Land Use permitting process. 

Public Works Permits
The Public Works Department must be consulted when any new business or development involves curb cuts, street openings, or water and sewer services. Please contact DPW Office Manager Terry Haig, (413) 458-9345, for more information about Public Works related issues.

Board of Selectmen Permits
The Board of Selectmen issue permits and licenses for Liquor, Entertainment, Common Victual Licenses. Please contact the Town Manager’s Assistant Debbie Turnbull, (413) 458-3500, for more information regarding these permit types.

Resources for Businesses 

Starting a Business in Massachusetts: Helpful information from the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development. 

Business Guidelines: The Western MA Small Business Development Center provides information and resources on their website for starting a business in MA including: model business and financing plan and business obligations checklists.

Employer Identification Numbers
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) also known as a federal Tax Identification Number, is used to identify a business entity. This number is used for both federal and state tax purposes. The following businesses must obtain an EIN:

Sole proprietor with one or more employees (not including yourself). Sole proprietor without employees (other than the owner) that are required to file excise, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, or employment tax returns

Partnerships (A married couple running a business together, with or without employees, is considered a partnership)

Corporations with or without employees

Exceptions: Sole proprietor without employees (other than the owner), and which are not required to file excise, alcohol, tobacco, firearms do not need to obtain a federal employer identification number. A personal social security number can be used instead for business tax purposes.

To obtain a federal EIN, you must file an application for Employer Identification Number (Form SS-4) with the 
Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Applications can be made on line or by phone at 1-800-829-4933.