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Vibrant communities often have a healthy economy with a diverse set of economic activity occurring related to job growth, business growth and attraction and a sustainable infrastructure. Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) is an economic development strategy of proactively connecting with existing businesses to understand and respond to their needs. Purdue Extension offers BR&E as a targeted program for small companies (between 10 and 99 employees) as a method to help Indiana communities understand local business needs and respond, so that businesses grow, stay and become more committed to the community. Purdue Extension’s BR&E program gets further integrated into the community and more involved in comprehensive strategy development at the local and regional level to assist and assess company as well as community needs.
Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) is an economic development strategy of proactively connecting with existing businesses to understand and respond to local business needs. Special attention is given to small businesses that employ between 10 to 99 employees, otherwise known as Stage 2 firms.
Purdue Extension recognizes that thriving communities need to be economically successful. Communities with an active and sustained economic development strategy will plant seeds of success locally and regionally—and BR&E should be part of that equation. Over time, a quality and targeted BR&E program improves the business operating climate, ensures competition remains healthy, provides quality jobs and employment opportunities and assists in stabilizing the economy.
Purdue Extension’s BR&E program engages the broader community in developing comprehensive business retention and expansion planning, which in turn helps businesses stay, grow and become more committed to the community. Engagement with the community involves education, training and providing research for each community, thus building upon their ability to assess opportunities, understand local/regional resources and issues that impact their local and regional economies. All training, tools and resources are provided by Purdue Cooperative Extension’s Community Development Program and the Purdue Center for Regional Development.
Existing businesses and the local workforce are key “barometers” of a community’s economic health (as a place to live, work and play). Research shows that small businesses are the major drivers of job growth. In Indiana, 85 percent of all existing businesses employ less than 100 people. They are the often-overlooked growth machine of the state—and the ones most likely to add new jobs to their portfolio. BR&E is intended to help focus the energies of community stakeholders on the economic assets that already exist in their cities, counties and regions, making them stronger and more resilient over time.
Every community is different yet has a similar set of stakeholders who should serve on the BR&E taskforce. One individual will likely emerge as the local coordinator of BR&E efforts, and the taskforce will serve as their team guiding the efforts. Stakeholders to consider include:
Taskforce members should be considered for the skills, knowledge and expertise they possess as well as their ability to process information in a timely manner to address any issues/topics that may arise.
The Business Retention & Expansion program (BR&E) can be provided at a flat fee of $2,750. This fee includes delivery of workshops, county data analysis, customized survey instrument, unlimited communications access to two Extension staff for project period and development of final report. The fee for subsequent BR&E cycles is $1,250. It is encouraged that your community seek financial support from your local economic development organization.
Assistant Director/Program Leader of the Extension Community Development
Purdue Community and Regional Development Specialist
Purdue Extension Community Development Regional Educator, Southeast District
Purdue Extension Community Development Regional Educator, Southwest District
Purdue Center for Regional Development, Program Coordinator