Doing Business In Highlands, NJ

Welcome to Highlands

A waterfront retreat with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and New York City skyline from hills that spiral down to the cool bay and ocean waters.  Located on the Northern tip of the New Jersey Shore, Highlands is less than an hour from Manhattan. New Yorkers don't even have to get in a car to relax and enjoy an escape to Highlands. Seastreak ferry, leaves from Manhattan, Pier 11 or East 34th Street and can get you here in about 45 minutes. Taking the ferry is part of the Highlands experience, when you get here, you will feel welcomed with old fashioned charm and friendly faces. Highlands is the first stop on the New Jersey Shore and many people come to enjoy sunbathing, surfing, fishing, wind surfing, boating and to experience New Jersey’s long tradition of maritime heritage at our lighthouses, our marinas and our coastal heritage trails. No matter what season, Highlands has everything for a perfect weekend away from it all. 

Working Together:
Highlands is known for its sense of community, especially when it comes to business. Every merchant is a partner working to build a town that has something for everyone. Whether you’re a start-up venture or looking to open your next location, there are services, professionals and volunteers to help every step of the way. Come see why Highlands has so much to offer.

Back to the Basics:
One of the most exciting aspects of a town updating their Master Plan and Zoning Regulations are the incredible new business opportunities. Positive word of mouth, good PR and extensive media coverage have solidified the town’s reputation as a place filled with opportunities for a wide variety of businesses.

Strong Anchors:
Highlands has twenty restaurants but nowhere else will you find such an eclectic selection of cuisine served in a half square mile. From the New York Times to the Asbury Park Press and many regional magazines, the attention has been overwhelming. In the past 3 years alone, 30% of our restaurants have been Zagat rated. Our famous waterfront "Dock and Dine" restaurants and the variety of choices, along with our unique Bed and Breakfasts and full service Marina's, continue to make Highlands a famous visitor destination.

While Highlands has less retail than restaurants, our merchants offer a small town personal shopping experience with unique products and services that are becoming increasingly desirable among many consumers, the Highlands Business Partnership and the Borough of Highlands welcome your talents, resources and treasures. Highlands is the perfect place to for an antique market place.

Easy Access:
Located on the Northern tip of the New Jersey Shore, Highlands is an hour from NYC by bus, train or car. First class, high speed ferry service is available from Highlands, perfect for a stress free commute, arriving in downtown Manhattan, Pier 11 in less than 45 minutes.

Public Parking is FREE...

Area Transportation & Directions to Highlands:

Click here for maps, directions and transportation

Borough of Highlands Business Improvement District
Highlands Business Partnership (HBP), Inc

HBP, Inc. is the Highlands Business Improvement District (BID) District Mansagement Corporation. The HBP is a welcoming community of businesses and professionals working together to grow our downtown and increase commerce. We are committed to delivering outstanding service to our members while we continue to make Highlands a great destination for dining, boating, retail, and unique services.

If you’re interested in starting a business in town, the HBP office is the perfect place to start. Our Board of Directors, Members and Volunteers are ready to assist you every step of the way. From networking in the business community to assisting in securing a retail space in our business district, we strive to move things along smoothly. We can also help steer you in the right direction for things like securing a Mercantile License, Certificate of Occupancy or getting your sign approved.

Who comprises the B.I.D?
Highlands Business Partnership, Inc. is a non-profit management corporation that oversees the Business Improvement Districts in Highlands. The Board of Directors consists of 17 members and a part time administrator who handles the daily functions of the corporation. All businesses are members of the Highlands Business Partnership (aka BID) and are welcomed to participate.

Destination Marketing and Tourism is the primary focus of the organization. Tens of thousands of dollars are contributed by the business tax base to fund one of the largest promotional efforts in the area. Major efforts and detail is taken in identifying strong market sectors and developing targeted campaigns that bring in thousands of visitors and potential new residents each year. You will enjoy major outdoor events like our St. patrick's Day Parade, Seaport Craft Show, Clam Fest, Farmer's Market and Oktoberfest as well as a variety of destination marketing programs.

General Meetings:
General meetings are held quarterly and are open to all Highlands businesses and commercial property owners. Call us at 732-291-4713 for meeting dates and locations or email us at to receive notifications.

HBP works with businesses in areas like:
• Promotion of all Highlands businesses through strategic marketing efforts
• Group media buys, inclusive advertising, press releases, Internet Marketing
• Extensive fundraising and grant applications
• Business recruitment and retention
• Event planning, promotion and management
• Barter and Sponsorship solicitation
• Representation of all Highlands businesses at many regional events
• Business District flowers, decorations and holiday activities
• Public area improvements
• Developing an Information/Visitor Guide including all businesses

HBP Events:
The Highlands Business Partnership hosts a spectacular annual event calendar drawing thousands of visitors to our downtown. All businesses are heavily promoted at each event by distributing visitor bags from the welcome tent with information, brochures, coupons, maps and menus from our local establishments. No outside food vendors are permitted to participate at the events. Click here for more information or to get involved.

Event Sponsorship:
Your business and company can be part of the Highlands success story! All sponsorship dollars and barter are tax deductible donations. Call or email to find out how.


Opening a Business in Highlands

Help is Around the Corner:
The Highlands Business Partnership and the Borough of Highlands want to make opening your business here as easy as possible. This fact sheet outlines the many steps to the process. With solid planning and communication, these are the things that can easily be incorporated into your plan.

Certificates of Occupancy (C.O.’s):
A Certificate of Occupancy is required at the time of change of occupancy of any property in the Borough of Highlands. The criteria for a CO are contained in Chapter 4-13 of the Highlands General Ordinances which can be viewed from the Borough's website, or by clicking here. All commercial units must be inspected between tenants. The Boca National Property Maintenance code of 1993 is the criteria used in these inspections. Click here to download the Certificate Of Occupancy Application.

Typically if you are changing the use of your property, you need a Zoning Permit which can be downloaded from the Borough Forms area on or by clicking here for the Borough Forms list. When in doubt, please call the Zoning Officer. One of the most frequently asked questions regarding both construction and zoning is whether or not a resident needs approval before beginning any type of construction. Whether a resident changes the use or makes an improvement to the property, chances are they will need a permit to legally begin construction.

Construction Code:
The Uniform Construction Code governs all of the construction and renovation of properties located in Highlands. Permits are required by the Borough of Highlands for any renovation of commercial buildings. Permit applications are available at the Borough Hall, 171 Bay Avenue. If you have any questions, contact our Construction Code office Monday through Friday. Click here for Borough Phone Directory.

Design Standards:
Built into our Zoning & Construction processes are Design Standards. If you plan on doing construction work of any kind in historic downtown areas, your plan will go in front of a committee for review. An explanation of Guidelines can be found at Borough Hall or can be downloaded by clicking here. Similarly, planned signs are reviewed by a separate committee to ensure all town signage conforms to the Borough Sign Ordinance (chapter 10-7) . This can be obtained from Borough Hall, or downloaded by clicking here.

Tax Abatement for Property Improvements:
Based on need, improvements to buildings and their facades may be eligible for special tax abatements for up to five years. Click here to see the Tax Abatement Ordinance or contact the Borough Hall Tax Assessor at 732-872-1224, Ext. 211.

Business Resource Library

Highlands Resources:
Municipal Contacts General and Land Use Ordinances
Municipal Forms & Applications Highlands Master Plan 2016 Reexamination PDF (7.4MB)
Tax Maps Recreation and Open Space Plan PDF (2.6MB)
Trash Collection and Zones Business District Design Manual PDF (6.6MB)

National Flood Insurance Program

Highlands Sign Regulations PDF (5.7MB)
Tax Abatement  

Building Resources:

Openings in Foundation Walls and Walls of Enclosures Below Elevated Buildings in Special Flood Hazard Areas in accordance with the National Flood Insurance Program PDF (5MB)

Floodproofing Non-Residential Buildings PDF (40MB)

NJ Business Resources:
Below is a list of helpful contacts that may need.

Start a Business in New Jersey

New Jersey Economic Development Authority(EDA)

NJ Small Business Development Center at Brookdale Community College (NJSBDC)

SCORE - Counselors to America's Small Business

US Small Business Administration

UCEDC a private, non-profit economic development lending corporation

Board of Health:
Monmouth County Regional Health Commission at 732-493-9520.

More useful links:

Federal Government
White House
House of Representatives
US Senate Home Page
US Census Bureau
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Gateway National Recreation Area

State Government
NJ Business Gateway Services
The State of New Jersey
Office of the Governor
New Jersey Elected Officials
New Jersey State Library
State of New Jersey New Jersey Turnpike Authority
New Jersey State Legislature
New Jersey Office of State Planning
Workforce New Jersey Public Information Network
Access DMV - Online Vehicle Registration
Adoption in New Jersey
New Jersey State Council on the Arts
Technology Business Incubators
Farmland Preservation
Now you can search for unclaimed property!
New Jersey Building Authority

Local Government
Monmouth County Website
Monmouth County Planning Board
Monmouth County Prosecutor
Monmouth County Library
Housing Sales

New Jersey Retail Merchants Association (NJRMA)
InJersey (Asbury Park Press)
New Jersey OnLine (NJ.COM)

ANJEC The New Jersey Association of Environmental Commissions