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University of Minnesota Extension

Extension is expanding its online education and resources to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions.

Business retention and expansion: online course (winter)

Event information



Online course


Michael Darger, University of Minnesota Extension
Business retention and expansion program lead
darger@umn.edu or 612-625-6246

Take an eight-week course on business retention and expansion (BRE) taught by industry professionals. The course features a community economic development business retention and expansion (BRE) model. This approach includes three key steps and broad-based community involvement that allows both volunteers and professionals to connect with businesses.

The course also infuses discussion and content about staff-driven continuous BRE visitation approaches - examining the similarities and differences between continuous BRE methods and the University of Minnesota’s community economic development BRE model. You will learn how different BRE approaches can be valuable for your economic development situation.

The course:

  • Takes two to four hours per week during an eight-week period. You can work at times convenient for your schedule. Staying involved on a weekly basis, however, optimizes your experience.
  • Includes weekly videos/readings, activities and discussion forums. Occasional live discussions feature various topics.
  • Helps you create a plan for your community or region’s new BRE initiative or to improve your existing program.

The course is designed for economic and community development professionals and stakeholders, community leaders and others who want to conduct a community-led BRE effort.

Costs and discounts

  • Individual (per person): $600
  • Community members/teams*:
    • 2 person team: $900
    • 3–5 person team: $1,200
  • Full-time student: $110 — email your transcript to Michael Darger prior to registering

*Community-led BRE is all about teamwork, so we encourage teams to attend training together. We offer team discounts for groups from a town or city, county, school district, or other groups of contiguous communities. It is available for either the online or in-person course.


Registration deadline is Monday, January 25, 2021.

Find more information about our business retention and expansion course.


Everyone who completes the course receives a certificate of accomplishment from Extension. For individuals taking the course at full price, you will receive the following upon completion:

  • Certification from Business Retention and Expansion International (BREI). This is an international association that promotes and educates about BRE.
  • A one-year membership in BREI ($100 value).

Note: Team members finishing the course using the team price are eligible to receive the BREI certification and one-year membership for $75.

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