business-friendly ways to help new businesses

We wondered about this …

We wondered whether there is a “new business” information packet available for someone who is interested in starting a business in Columbia. A basic Internet search showed nothing. Emails to the representatives at the Borough and the Columbia Economic Development Corporation disclosed that there is no central source that affords prospective business operators, retailers or entrepreneurs what Columbia offers; both entities agreed there was a need.

There is a Borough Community Development Committee; according to the Web page, the “Community Development Committee – the Committee on Community Development shall, in conjunction with the Borough Manager and other organizations examine all possible alternatives to promote and foster economic and community development initiatives in the Borough of Columbia. the Committee shall strive to implement the Planning Commission’s Capital Improvement Program concentrating on the economic enhancements to the Borough. The Committee shall enhance the Borough’s ability to attract and support the growth of commerce and attend to all duties which may properly be referred to such Committee by Council and shall comply with all rules and procure the enforcement of all laws and ordinances affecting municipal form and procedure. The committee meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m.”

Members of Committee: Renae Sears, Chairwoman; James Smith, Vice-Chairman; Mary Wickenheiser, Member;  Sandra L. Duncan, Alternate.

It is true that there are places that people can go to learn more about the nuts and bolts of starting a business:

But … what about the specifics of opening or locating a business to a nearby community like Columbia? A number of Lancaster and York County municipalities provide town-specific information. The availability of one-stop, helpful, site-specific information often is the determining factor that helps make business location decisions.

We think this kind of checklist (below) will be a valuable guide for prospective business operators and we encourage the Borough Community Development Committee to create one.


(Note: The items in this booklet are intended as a guide only and have been carefully researched and deemed correct. However, Agency Name and the Borough of XXXXXX cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions. Please contact Agency name with any suggestions or corrections.)

  • For demographic information, space availability, and business information assistance in downtown XXXXXXX, contact: Name of Person, Executive Director, Agency name (address, telephone and FAX numbers, email address and Website). Note: these have been deleted to maintain anonymity.
  • To prepare a written business plan, complete with pro-forma statements that will serve as an operating guide as well as a financial prospectus, you may receive free and confidential advice through the following agencies:

–          Small Business Development Center (SBDC) 877-4PA-SBDC

–          Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) 717-397-3092

–          Community First Fund 717-393-2351

  • The XXXXXXXXX Name of agency was formed to promote the identity and awareness of XXXXXXXXX, specifially downtown, through effective advertising, meaningful promotions, and special community events. They strive to encourage unity, cooperation, and innovation among all XXXXXXX businesses in order to optimally satisfy customer markets and enhance vitality of each business and the community as a whole. Contact Name of person, 000.0000.
  • The Borough of XXXXXXXX does not issue local business licenses. However, restaurants/food providers are required to obtain a health license. Annual permits run from $30 (for establishments with no seating) to $75 (for establishments with 100 or more seats). Phone: 000.000.000, ex. 000.
  • Decide upon your business structure–sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or subchapter “s” corporation, Limited Liability Partnership, etc. To form a corporation in the state of Pennsylvania, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Department of State (form DSCB:1306). Phone: 717-787-1057
  • Register your fictitious name with the Corporation Bureau of the Department of State (cost is $70). A fictitious name is any assumed name, style, or designation other than the property name of the entity using the name. The surname of a person by itself or with words that describe the business is not a fictitious name. The inclusion of words that suggest additional owners, such as Company, & Company, & Sons, or & Associates, makes the name a fictitious name. To register, you must file form DSCB:54-311 (go to, “Register Your Business”, “Forms & Publications”). Before or after registering a fictitious name, you will be required to place an advertisement in newspapers of general circulation in Lancaster County (Name of publication, 000.000.0000).
  • Every employer subject to employment taxes is required to obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. Contact the IRS for Form SS-4. Some businesses are required to have an identification number for use on returns, statements and other documents even though they do not have any employees. Filing this form will result in you receiving all other federal tax forms and instructions required of a new business. Your EIN will also be used as your Pennsylvania employer identification number. Internal Revenue Service, Philadelphia, 19255. Phone: 1-800-829-4933, 7:30am-5:30pm.
  • The IRS will also allow you to obtain an EIN number directly for their web site, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To apply, go to, enter EIN as a keyword to begin the process (located in the upper right hand corner of the homepage). No registration is required to use the system and the number is issued immediately. This is the preferred method, as registering on- line will eliminate the need to send paperwork to the IRS as well as prevent the delay in issuing a number that may result from an incomplete application.
  • The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) is a free service provided by the US Department of the Treasury that allows business (and individual taxpayers) to make federal tax payments electronically using the internet or phone. To enroll, visit, or call EFTPS Customer Service at 1-800-555-4477.
  • If you employ one or more persons, you may be liable for the state unemployment compensation tax and must register with the Bureau of Employer Tax Operations. Contact the Field Accounting Service for Lancaster County. Phone: 717-299-7606
  • Register your employees for the XXXXXXX Borough and XXXXXXXX School District Earned Income Tax. Forms can be obtained by contacting the Lancaster County Tax Collection Bureau at 717-569-4521, or
  • Various state taxes are imposed upon individuals, employers, businesses and certain products. The tax for which any business is liable depends on the type and structure of the business. Direct your questions on tax topics or ask general tax information to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue – Harrisburg at 717-787-8201, or the local office in Department of Revenue office in Lancaster at 717-299-7581.
  • Obtain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for your employees. In Pennsylvania, workers compensation insurance is required if a person, company, or corporation has any full or part-time employees. This includes employees, family members, one-person corporations and corporate officers. Contact the Department of Labor and Industry’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in Harrisburg. Phone: 717-772-4447 – Hot Line Phone: 1-800-482-2383.
  • For information on parking regulations as well as assistance with your parking needs, contact the Community Development office of XXXXXXX Borough. Phone: 000.000.0000 ex. 000.

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