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University of Minnesota Extension

Retaining businesses in your community

About business retention and expansion

"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." 

— A Minnesota Community Leader for Economic Development

Retaining and expanding local business is central to the mission of economic development in Minnesota. Economic developers build positive relationships with businesses, put systems in place to connect with businesses regularly, and follow up when there are problems are critical business retention activities. With over 20 years of work with communities, Extension has a host of resources that can help economic development leaders get this work done, so that they can create a community climate where businesses thrive.

Help for your community

Extension offers online help, courses and events, and in-depth community consultation to help communities create a plan to help their businesses.

Explore recent research

Scholars and economic development experts pay attention to business retention efforts – innovative practices, case studies and emerging issues. Read reports on our research and community programs we helped build. 

Learn from other communities

You won’t know what businesses care about unless you ask. In these case studies, you'll see how asking businesses what they need can lead to important community projects – housing development, community beautification, leadership succession planning, and more.

Use our tools to survey businesses

View role-play examples

Have you met with your local businesses? Watch our below videos for role-playing examples and tips for visiting firms.

Access our 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.

Take a course

Extension provides courses on business retention online and face-to-face. Extension educators can conduct courses in your region of the state.

More community resources

Below, you'll find more online resources to support business retention and expansion in your community. 


Need help building a community program to retain businesses?

Unsure how to build your own business retention program. With over 20 years of experience working with communities, we can help you research local needs, prioritize projects and act. Learn more about our research, consultation and coaching services.

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.

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