About business retention
"Business retention is at the core of everything we do in economic development. It's the first thing on my list — to take care of our existing family of businesses."
— Minnesota community leader for economic development
Retaining and expanding local businesses is central to the mission of economic development in Minnesota. It is important to build positive relationships with businesses, connect with them regularly, and follow up when problems arise that may affect critical business activities.
If you are unsure how or where to start, this may seem like a daunting task. Know that you are not alone. With over 20 years of experience working with communities, Extension offers a host of resources that can help economic development leaders create a community climate in which businesses thrive.
Ways Extension can help
Extension offers a longstanding program, training, research and in-depth community consultation to help your community create a plan to help local businesses.
Retaining local businesses
Do you have a business retention plan? Our connecting businesses and community program helps you understand — and respond to — local business needs. Learn more about our program.
Coaching and guidance
Are you starting a program and need help working through the steps? We can help you research local business needs, prioritize projects and take action. Learn about our research, consultation and coaching services.
Would you like to learn from Extension? We offer courses and workshops and free webinars. Contact an Extension educator in your region to find out if they can conduct training in your community.
Community resources and tools
Extension provides tools that help communities create plans and support their local businesses. Use our resources to help your community move forward.
Support rural business transfers
Are you ready for business owners in your community to retire? The health of small businesses is critical to local economies and to the civic and philanthropic life of rural communities. Find ways to support business succession.
Access survey questions
Are you ready to survey your local businesses? Use our survey question bank to gather information important to businesses and find out what they need.
Learn from other communities
How successful are communities at retaining businesses? Review our case studies to see how asking businesses what they need can lead to important projects – housing development, town beautification, leadership succession planning and more.
Review community benchmarks
What type of data is found from business retention and expansion programs? Extension has over 25 years of benchmark data from doing community interviews that provide insight into what Minnesota businesses care about.
Explore recent research
What studies have been done on retaining businesses? Scholars and economic development experts notice innovative practices, case studies and emerging issues. Read reports about our research and the community programs we've helped build.
Consider employee ownership
Would you like to attract a buyer to a business in your community? For rural businesses with less than 100 employees, selling to employees may be an option. Learn more about retaining rural businesses through employee ownership
Your community can learn about retaining businesses in a variety of ways from Extension. Learn more through videos, on-demand webinars, podcasts and articles.
View the videos in our playlist on this page or on YouTube to learn about a variety of different topics.
For an alternate learning path, watch the videos in the below sections for role-playing examples, tips for visiting organizations, and ways to implement business retention and expansion in your community. These videos are found in our playlist too.
How to do a Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) visit to a business
How to do a Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) visit to a business - tips and role play demo
Watch these videos for descriptions of ways to implement a business retention and expansion program in your community.
Watch the 18-minute version for the most detailed insights. The shorter versions are good for sharing with colleagues and officials who you need to support your efforts.
Full video (19:06)
Short preview (2:25)
An overview (5:48)
Watch recent on-demand webinars about retaining local businesses.
Related articles and podcasts
Listen to podcasts and read articles related to business retention topics.
Taking care of (existing) business — a community approach
You could travel around the world to attract new jobs to your town, but you're probably better off staying at home.
Episode 15: Making business succession planning successful
[podcast] How do you plan for a successful business transition? Sharing resources and building supportive relationships can help. In this episode, hear how Spring Valley, Minnesota created a program that helps business owners.
Episode 14: Understanding rural small business succession
[podcast] Selling a small business is not the same as selling a house. Listen as we discuss how business owners and buyers can prepare for this transition and how communities can help.
Consult with us
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Extension educators work in communities with partners throughout Minnesota. Contact us for consultation, guidance and conversation about your community.