~ by Heather Strohm, Regional Extension Educator, Community Development – Purdue University
Ribbon cuttings with large gold scissors often celebrate the wins of communities as businesses open. What steps are taken as companies add employees? How do communities, cities, towns, counties, and regions celebrate company success as businesses navigate aspects such as adding water infrastructure or building a new facility to add employee wellness factors or training to address operating culture?
During the final module of Business Retention and Expansion, the program aggregates all the data, site visit outcomes, and information into the final report for the Task Force Committee and the community/region. Driving across the country in the 80s, many often stopped at the local gas station or truck stop for a Rand McNally Road Map. These are the maps that took up the entire front seat of the vehicle and outlined every road, highway, and street within every state that one would travel. It was a necessary resource to effectively travel as you followed those squiggly black lines indicating which path to take, all while watching for traffic signs/signals, road closures, and detours.
The same philosophy applies to business. The final Business Retention and Expansion report offers the recommendations based on information gathered through data survey instruments and the site visits. It utilizes facts to guide the Task Force in assisting them in making the best solution for the business and the operating climate of the county/region.
Here in Indiana, the final module includes the following points:
- An Executive Summary: This highlights the overarching view of the program, including: How many companies were visited, the number that identified expansion opportunities, the need for quality of life investments, such as housing, parks/recreation, and/or cultural amenities.
- The Core Components, inlcuding: community demographic data, commute-shed patterns and a deeper look into consumers and firms in the region/community as it pertains to the subset of companies selected for the site visits.
- The Site Visits: These are broken down to include a detailed outline of resources, accountability, timelines, measurements, and assets.
- Conclusion and Appendix put that nice red bow on the report. Summarizing what happened, the next steps, recognizing who is involved, and providing any supporting documentation.
The Final BR&E Report serves as a guide for implementation. It outlines the steps, the key partners, and how the timelines should look for each business and the community at large. The Task Force has the knowledge and ability to move the needle forward with the information provided. Taken as a whole, the work and diligence gained can contribute to moving businesses, development, and sustainability in a positive direction for all of Indiana.