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Small businesses are the primary driver of job growth in Indiana. In fact, existing second stage businesses generated 36% of all new jobs in Indiana between 2010 and 2015. Traditionally, community leaders’ primary approach to growing their local economy has been through industrial attraction; looking for a large employer that wanted to move to their community. Economic Gardening recognizes that there are other highly effective strategies to grow their economy—helping their existing businesses grow.
Economic Gardening is an entrepreneurial approach to economic development. It assumes that an economy can be grown from the inside, when local companies grow. To help companies grow, the community provides sophisticated data and targeted services that improve the natural entrepreneurial process. Economic Gardening was created by Chris Gibbons in Littleton, Colorado, in 1987 and is implemented by the Edward Lowe Foundation in 25 states across the United States.
Purdue has a certified Economic Gardening team made up of professionals from the Purdue Center for Regional Development, the Indiana Small Business Development Center and Krannert School of Management. “From the very beginning of the Economic Gardening program, our hope was that we would help grow 20 jobs over the period of three to four years,” said Bo Beaulieu, director of PCRD. “We were heartened to know that the program has helped realize a net growth of more than 100 jobs in less than three years.”