St. Helens offers convenience to Highway 30, Columbia River, and the railroad.  St. Helens is the County seat with City Hall adjacent to the County Courthouse making it easy to do business between the two buildings.  “Columbia County Economic Team (CCET) is Columbia County’s one-stop shop for business services.”  New industrial businesses can take advantage of the Enterprise Zone in certain locations of the City.

Why St. Helens?

Local market demand is growing. According to a recent retail market study conducted by SHEDCO (which can be found below), annual household income grew 2.5% from 2000 to 2010, and only 80 cents are currently spend for every $1 in expected retail spending. There is actually a $59 million gap between retail demand and supply. Several markets have large retail market gaps, including food and beverage stores; furniture and home furnishings stores; clothing and accessories; health and personal care stores; sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores; and electronics and appliance stores. Our area has the highest growth rate of new residents in the Portland metro area, and we are 6th in the state.

St. Helens is home to a strong local small business support system. Several organizations facilitate small business and general economic development, including the St. Helens Economic Development Corporation(SHEDCO), the Columbia County Economic Team (CCET), and the Columbia-Pacific Economic Development District (COL-PAC). Other Portland-based groups, such as Micro-Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO) and Portland Community College (PCC), offer select services and programs in our area. Micro-loans, IDAs (matched-savings accounts), small business classes and workshops, and entrepreneur mentor programs are all readily available, and two small business development centers are within forty miles of St. Helens, in Longview and Portland.

The state of Oregon also has a very favorable business environment. Unlike other states, Oregon does not tax general sales and use, receipts/revenue, or inventory. Oregon is rated number two in lowest taxes on new investment, and we are in the top five for lowest business tax rates over the last five years. Unlike other counties, Columbia County does not have sales tax, business and occupation taxes, local business income taxes, or local payroll taxes. St. Helens is also located in an enterprise zone, which offers several incentives to qualifying businesses, including a 100% property tax exemption.

St. Helens has several assets that complement our business environment: we sit right on the beautiful Columbia River, with a riverfront park, and our Olde Towne neighborhood is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Retail Market Study
Small Business Resources

Mainstreet Business Map

Vacancy Report Summer 2014
5 Tips on Photography for Marketing on the Internet
25 Website Must Haves
Internet Marketing
Marketing Content
Social Media and Website Creation for Small Businesses
Architectural Design Guidelines for Olde Towne
Land Use Planning – View this page for land use forms and applications, fee schedule, sign regulations and information on historic preservation.
Zoning Map
Building Permit Information

All businesses within the city limits of St. Helens, must obtain a city business license.  Even if your business office is located outside the city limits and you only do business occasionally in St. Helens, you still need a city business license.  Owners of both residential and commercial rental property also need a city business license.

The fee for a business license is non-refundable.  Therefore, it is recommended that businesses and home occupations ensure they meet all zoning and other code requirements prior to applying for a business license.

Commercial Business License Packet – operate from a commercial location inside city limits
Home Occupation Business License Packet – operate from your home inside city limits
Business License Application – non-resident businesses (located outside city limits) and rental units
Additional forms