Business retention and expansion
Helping local businesses succeed
"Menahga is a more positive place to live, work and play as a result of the partnership with Extension’s BRE program. Over 52 businesses were surveyed in our city of 1,300. Community stakeholders took the information from surveys and created working teams that brought more affordable housing, entertainment, an awareness of our business community, and opportunities for our youth. Menahga now has a concerted effort to help businesses grow and prosper."
— Liz Olson, Menahga business retention and expansion leadership team
Extension's business retention and expansion (BRE) program helps communities understand — and respond to — local business needs. This knowledge better informs your community decisions and helps businesses stay, grow and become more committed to your town.
Benefits to your community
Short-term, your community will:
Show local businesses you want them to succeed
Help local businesses solve immediate concerns
Long-term, your community will:
Create and carry out an economic development plan
Support businesses so they can better compete in the global economy
Process for working with your community
Extension’s program takes a year or two to complete and follows a three-step process.
We can provide coaching and training to help your community through a business retention initiative.
Learn more about who — and what — is involved in each part of the program below.
- Extension educators and specialists, who help you design your community-driven program. They provide:
- Survey instruments
- Data analysis
- A meeting to review findings with University of Minnesota faculty and other experts
- An in-depth report of findings and possible projects
- A community retreat to prepare you ready to move forward
- A leadership team in your community that engages the community, coordinates task forces and organizes the project.
- A local task force that engages local leaders — including representatives of economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, business, government and educational institutions.
- Business visitation teams that include leaders from the task force and the community.
Step 1 — Research
- Inform community about BRE
- Organize leadership team
- Organize task force
- Practice visiting businesses
- Finalize interview guide
- Train visitors
- Visit businesses
- Tabulate interview data
Step 2 — Prioritize
- Review warning flags
- Respond to individual concerns
- Analyze interview data
- Write research report
- Plan retreat to set priorities on systemic issues
- Design priority projects
- Write summary report
- Commence to implementation
Step 3 — Implement
- Work on project teams (continuous)
- Sustain leadership team
- Update on projects — 1st quarter task force
- Update on projects — 2nd quarter task force
- Update on projects and plan to sustain BRE — 3rd quarter task force
- Evaluate results
- Distribute results
- Update on projects — 4th quarter task force
- Sustain or conclude BRE
Costs and financing
Extension's BRE program costs $7,000 - $15,000, depending on location and complexity of the program. Our fees help alleviate the costs to Extension for providing technical assistance and research services. We absorb part of this cost to make the program affordable for Minnesota communities.
Communities have received help from a variety of sources, including private companies, foundations and industry organizations. We can help your community explore options to help finance the program.
Prefer a do-it-yourself option?
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.