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University of Minnesota Extension

Connecting businesses and community

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 connecting businesses and community 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

Ready to get started?

For more information, contact Michael Darger or a community economics educator.

Process for working with your community

Extension’s program takes a year or two to complete and follows a three-step process.  View the below video for more details.

We can provide coaching and training to help your community through the connecting businesses and community initiative.

Learn more about who — and what — is involved in each part of the program below.


Available programs and cost

Our connecting businesses and community program maximizes Extension support, community organization, and applied research to support the business community. We offer three packages to communities. See details on what each package includes and costs below:


Prefer a do-it-yourself option?

Do you enjoy handling projects and tasks on your own? Take a course or use our online tools to get started and learn as you go.

Consult with us

Community economics • Leadership and civic engagement • Tourism

Extension educators work in communities with partners throughout Minnesota. Contact us for consultation, guidance and conversation about your community.

Find an educator

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