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Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E): Creating Jobs, Building Community

on Mon, 05/09/2016 - 18:03

Surveys show that existing businesses create as many as 80 percent of all new jobs in a community.  When established businesses stagnate, fail, downsize, or relocate elsewhere, communities may also experience negative ripple effects that include a cascade of other business failures, utility rate hikes, and strains on social services, schools, and families.  Conversely, research shows that a thriving local economy makes that community attractive to new business ventures considering setting up shop there.  It makes sense to pay close attention to keeping those businesses in town and encouraging them to expand locally.  That’s why Cooperative Extension pioneered what’s called the Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) model of community economic development in the mid-1980s. From its origins at Ohio State Extension in 1986, the BR&E model has spread throughout the U.S. and much of the world.

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Peace breaks out in currency markets?

on Mon, 04/25/2016 - 19:42

HAS a truce been declared in the currency wars? At the start of the year, the dollar seemed bound to rise because the Federal Reserve was set on pushing up interest rates three or four times, while there were fears that the weakness of the Chinese economy might force the authorities to devalue the yuan. As it has turned out, the Fed has been sounding more dovish (perhaps because the US economy was weak in the first quarter with the Atlanta Fed's tracker looking at just 0.3% annualised growth); the dollar's rally has halted. And the yuan has risen, not fallen, against the dollar.

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Why Business Retention and Expansion Plans are Important for Downtowns

on Mon, 03/14/2016 - 21:03

Small businesses are the driving force in today’s economy, especially in downtowns.   According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are 28 million small businesses in the U.S. which account for 54% of all U.S. sales.  Additionally, small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and 66% of net new jobs since the 1970s (https://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-trends-impact). Therefore, it’s critical for all communities and downtowns to have a business retention and expansion (BRE) plan in place to help local small businesses, providing them with opportunities to be successful.  After all, small businesses help increase the number of local jobs, preserve or increase the local tax base, increase property values, enhance the community’s image, increase consumer confidence, and diversify the local economy.

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BREI Conference Agenda Now Released

on Thu, 02/25/2016 - 13:31

The 2016 BREI Conference agenda has now been released.  You may view this agenda by clicking on the following linkl:

View Full Conference Agenda

The conference will also include three pre-conference workshops including the Fundamentals Course, a Discovering Emotional Intelligence Course, and a Program Evaluation Course.  A description of these pre-conference workshops and associated fees may be found by clicking here.  

The Double Early Bird main conference rate of $450 for members and $550 for non-members is currently available through the end of February(pre-conference workshops are an additional fee).  We now have a consolidated registration available for both the main conference and pre-conference workshops via the links below.

Register Online  |  Members

Register Online  |  Non-Members

It's your turn to brag! Nominations now open for 2016 BREI awards

on Mon, 02/15/2016 - 17:01

It's your turn to brag!  Business Retention and Expansion International recognizes BR&E programs on an annual basis. We invite BREI members to submit innovative, effective and exemplary BR&E programs in the following areas:

  • Community Program

  • Multi-Community, County or Regional Program

  • State or Province Program

  • George Morse Award

  • BREI Distinguished Service Award

So, nominate your business retention and expansion activity or program for one of these awards.  If you and your team have accomplished some great activities during the last few years, let others know about it.  Your hard work can be acknowledged and you can share your accomplishments with others in the profession.  Click here to learn more.

BREI Member Testimonial: Lorraine Boyd, CAPM, BREP

on Thu, 01/14/2016 - 13:37

I see the importance of BREI training as twofold:

The first is professional development.  A business retention and expansion program is a cornerstone of an economic development strategy and so all economic development professionals and interested stakeholders should be given the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and skill set in the methodology of a BRE program.   It is very important that all players in a community understand the purpose, process and value of a successful BRE program.

The second is the professional network.  BREI membership provides any economic developer access to many colleagues that are also BRE practitioners not only across North America but also internationally.  By staying connected, sharing ideas and best practices the BRE concepts, models and value is advanced in economic development circles.

Video Showing BRE Excellence in the Small Town of Menahga

on Mon, 12/28/2015 - 18:15

Menahga, Minnesota won the BREI award for a community of under 20,000 in 2014. Take a look as this video, BR&E Results: New Housing for a Small Town, and learn how a small town in Minnesota is doing great things by using BRE.

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County of Wellington enjoys success with BRE strategies

on Wed, 12/02/2015 - 16:10


The County of Wellington in Ontario, Canada, embarked on the BRE journey beginning in 2013.  Two years later, the county has reaped significant rewards with the candle onthe cake represented by two BREI awards at the BREI Annual Conference in 2014..

However, their momentum did not end.  In October of 2015, the county began interviews with 150 businesses in their 14 downtowns in addition to 15 foreign owned businesses. Most notably, they have created the first ever foreign owned business questionnaire, vetted by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  

Following the direction of BREI and using the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs toolkit, the interviews have enabled the county to build a rapport with over 300 businesses that have invested in their communities and proactively supported their growth.

From the interviews, they have:

  • an understanding of the local business climate, what it’s like to do business in Wellington
  • become aware of and improved municipal processes where possible
  • been able to celebrate the growth of certain businesses we have assisted
  • dealt with urgent issues identified in the interview process
  • connected businesses with local suppliers they were previously unaware of
  • shared best practices on our process with other communities considering a BR+E
  • created a $175,000 County fund for member municipalities to apply for up to $25,000 to assist in their BR+E Action plan stemming from the interview results and
  • provided exposure to local businesses via our interview thank you bags.

Submit a BRE article to the Journal of Community Development Society

on Tue, 11/17/2015 - 21:37

BREI is a co-sponsor of the BRE special issue of Community Development (Journal of Community Development Society).  Therefore, BREI members are encouraged to submit an abstract for a paper. The special issue is planned for 2017 and will feature 7-8 articles to comprehensively cover BRE topics.  This is a unique opportunity for the world to learn about BRE in a deeper way.  For more information, www.bre.umn.edu or contact Michael Darger at 612-625-6246 or darger@umn.edu.

Surface Equipment Corp. enjoys success with BRE strategies from Kilgore EDC

on Mon, 11/16/2015 - 21:31

Stephen McLemore is president of Surface Equipment Corporation of Kilgore, Texas.  BRE strategies have recently been used by Heather Jurenka and the Kilgore Economic Development Corporation to grow and expand the business.  McLemore writes, "The Kilgore Economic Development Corporation has been involved and extremely helpful in working with Surface Equipment Corporation as we continue to expand our business.  Recently, KEDC was able to work with the city of Kilgore to engineer and build a new road that would withstand the weight of our heavy haul vessels and packages.  Once the construction had started, shipping and receiving faced many logistical challenges. KEDC was able to work with the city and road contractor to expedite the construction progress.  Another area that KEDC has been immensely helpful was working with a local telecommunications vendor to extend fiber optics in this area.  As our business grew, slow internet speed was taking a toll on everyday tasks.  In the past, this area has had only one internet option and provider.  In desperation, we mentioned to Heather Jurenka, Business Retention Specialist at KEDC, our internet frustrations and within one month our internet problems were addressed and plans of action were in place.  We are extremely grateful for an Economic Development Corporation and a Business Retention Specialist that truly cares about the success of our company and other local businesses.  We appreciate all that they have done to help us continue our path of growth and excellence.”  

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