Doing Business in Wilkinsburg

Starting a business can be a challenging process, but it gets much easier with the right guidance and resources. Whether you’re just beginning or looking to expand, being informed will set you on the path to success.

Starting a Business

  1. Educate Yourself: Before diving in, consider attending a Business Workshop or Class.
  2. Legal and Tax Foundation: Setting up and maintaining proper legal and tax records from the outset is crucial. This will not only help you run your business smoothly but also ensure compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.
  3. Navigate Local Regulations with Ease:
    • Reach out to the Wilkinsburg Code Enforcement Office: Before you proceed with any business activity, discuss your plans with the Code Enforcement Office. They can guide you on:
      • Licensing requirements
      • Zoning regulations
      • Necessary permits
      • Construction guidelines
      • Occupancy rules
      • Signage compliance
      • Parking regulations, and more.
    • Plan Ahead and Be Prepared for Surprises: The process of setting up a business can come with unforeseen challenges. Reaching out early to relevant offices and agencies can help preempt any unexpected hurdles.
  4. Seek Support:
    • Financial Assistance: Whether you’re looking for loans, grants, or investors, knowing where to turn can make all the difference.
    • Mentorship and Networking: Engaging with local business communities or finding a mentor can be invaluable. They can offer insights, advice, and connections that can help your business thrive.

Remember, starting a business is a journey. We look forward to walking with you on that journey as you make Wilkinsburg your home. Welcome to our business community!


Educational Resources

PA Business One-Stop Shop

PA recognizes the importance of small business to the health of every town and city, and in that spirit they have created a unified resource hub for starting, maintaining, and growing a business.

PA Business One-Stop Shop

Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation

The Wilkinsburg CDC offers educational classes often and at no charge. They’re designed to provide a foundation for aspiring entrepreneurs, covering crucial topics that every business owner will need to know.

Visit the WCDC Business Classes Page


Permits, Zoning, and Code


Depending on the business type, an owner may need to obtain a number of permits. Contact the borough Code Enforcement Office to determine which permits are applicable to you.


The Borough of Wilkinsburg recognizes a number of different building zones, each of which has different requirements for purpose, lot size, building height, number of stories, etc. Check out the Zoning Definitions and Map to understand how this impacts your Business. As always, work with code enforcement to ensure that your business falls within an appropriate zone type, and that the zoning requirements are adhered to.


Signs and visual marketing are an important part of the success of any business, but there are regulations regarding how such signs can be used. These include, but are not limited to:

  • A permit is required prior to the construction, alteration, modification or moving of any exterior sign
  • A sketch, drawn to scale, shall be submitted to the Zoning Officer and shall depict the lot and building upon which the proposed sign will be located
  • Any sign which projects or hangs over the public right-of-way is required to carry liability insurance
  • Illuminated signs must be inspected by the Borough of Wilkinsburg to verify compliance with the adopted electrical code

For more information on signage or zoning, consult Borough Code.


All commercial premises must be inspected by the Borough of Wilkinsburg and brought up to required standards prior to a change in the person or persons occupying them. Any deficiencies found by the Borough must be corrected before the property can be occupied. This includes, but is not limited to, building construction, electrical standards, fire prevention, housing standards, mechanical standards, and property maintenance. All properties must also have an inspection before being connected to the municipal sewer system.


Taxes, Fees, and Costs


You will need to contact the various Tax organizations when establishing your business.

Wilkinsburg business owners are responsible for the following (the property tax includes borough, county, and school district rates):

  • Property Tax: $48.23 per $1,000 of property value
  • Earned Income Tax: 1% of earned income
  • Local Services Tax: $52 per year
  • Business Privilege Tax:
    • $1.50 per $1,000 of retail receipts
    • $1.000 per $1,000 of wholesale receipts

A full description of Wilkinsburg’s Taxes and information on all of the taxing bodies can be found on the Finance Department’s Tax Information Page.


Wilkinsburg business owners are responsible for arranging utility service. Fees and charges are not paid directly to the borough, but to an individual agency. See below for the appropriate agency to contact for each fee/charge.

Water and Sewer Charges: Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority
Electricity Charges: Duquesne Light

Waste Disposal

All apartment buildings, commercial, institutional, and industrial establishments are required to individually contract with a waste collection service of their choice to come at least once per week. Any qualified multi-unit building (for example, an apartment building) with more than four units must provide a dumpster of adequate size on site. If any remodeling or construction work is being undertaken that requires a dumpster, a permit must be obtained from the code enforcement office before placing it on a public street.


Financial Assistance and Incentives

Allegheny County Economic Development

A number of services, Loan and Finance opportunities, and tax incentives are available through the Allegheny County Office of Economic Development. Their website has references to all of this information, as well as a Contact link to reach out about your business and its needs.

Visit the Allegheny County Website

Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation offers several programs that are designed to assist in starting and expanding your business.

Facade Renovation: Two programs are available to help you improve your building, storefront, or even digital footprint to grow your business.

Rental Assistance: A program to help reduce the impact of rent in your business’ first year here in Wilkinsburg.


Kiva provides a platform for entrepreneurs to crowdfund zero interest business loans. Many entrepreneurs have a dedicated local following that can help bridge funding gaps.

Visit the Kiva Website

Hebrew Free Loan Association

The Hebrew Free Loan Association of Pittsburgh is a nonprofit that supports financial stability and advances opportunities for people in our region by providing interest-free loans. Interest-free loans are available on a nonsectarian basis to residents who may not qualify for assistance through other institutions.

Visit the HFLA Website

Historic District Tax Incentives

The Federal government offers a 20% Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit for certified historic structures that will be used for income-producing purposes and will be owned and operated as income-producing by the same owner for at least five years. Wilkinsburg has two historic districts: The Hamnett Historic District in the Hamnett neighborhood and the Wilkinsburg Historic District in the downtown business area.

Visit the PA Historical & Museum Commission Website


Wilkinsburg Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Wilkinsburg Chamber of Commerce believes that communities are improved through the creation and advancement of businesses and nonprofit organizations. Their mission is to promote the growth, prosperity and vitality of Wilkinsburg, and its residents, through educational and charitable activities aimed at helping people improve their own lives and the lives of those around them through entrepreneurship and access to a positive business environment.

Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation helps entrepreneurs and business owners succeed through workshops, educational opportunities, financial support, and more.