What We’ve Got Really is the Very Best
Mention the phrase “economic development” on Main Street in most communities and people may assume you’re talking about relocating a technology company from a metropolitan suburb to a shiny new spec building. But there’s a more vital aspect of economic development, one that is always the best source of new jobs and community growth. It’s the growth and expansion of companies already existing in our community.
Retaining and assisting businesses already here may not seem as exciting as bringing in new names, but it really is good economic development policy. And here are some reasons why:
- It’s cheaper. No doubt about it—helping an existing business to expand is generally less expensive than bringing in new companies. Fewer incentives are needed for the business already here, and that company’s growth will still provide new jobs, new wages circulating through the local economy and an expanding tax base.
- Better chance of success. An existing business looking to expand already knows it can succeed in its current location. A relocated business does not have that certainty—and may not be a permanent addition to our community. The local firm is usually more aware of the opportunities and risks of expanding in its current location, so it is more likely to succeed.
- A bird in the hand is better. Helping an existing company—even one that is struggling for some reason—is easier, less expensive and less risky than trying desperately to find a replacement for that business if it fails. If we do all we can to keep existing businesses strong and growing, we don’t have to rely on outside businesses to fuel the economy and provide the resources for our community to grow.
Obviously, it is important to be ready for new prospects, and to market the advantages of our community to draw new prospects, but the best source of the jobs and opportunities we seek is already here—in the existing business base.
Minnesota retention stories
Retaining and expanding existing businesses is a surer economic development bet than recruiting new ones from other towns. The Minnesota Extension Service helps communities understand local business needs and respond—so that businesses stay, grow and become more committed to the community.
The Minnesota Extension Service BR&E Strategies program gets the broader community involved in comprehensive business retention and expansion planning. The site also offers case studies, community stories, reports and sample surveys that will help you think about business retention and expansion for your community.