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University of Minnesota Extension

Business retention and expansion course

The BRE class was highly informative and applicable to my daily work in economic development. Learning the history, theory and practice of BRE has positively impacted my effectiveness as a business developer as I engage with employers in our community.

— 2017 online course participant

A healthy, vibrant local economy depends largely on the strength of existing businesses. Community leaders can help local businesses grow and thrive through business retention and expansion (BRE) programs.

University of Minnesota Extension has offered business retention and expansion courses since 1996. You can choose to take an eight-week online course or attend a two-day, in-person workshop. Both options provide an opportunity for you to learn learn how to conduct high-quality programs in your community or region.

Online course

The BRE online course is an eight-week class. Two sessions are scheduled in 2018.


In-person course

The BRE in-person course is a traditional class over two days. One session is scheduled in 2018.


Costs and discounts

The cost of the course is $500 per person.

Team discounts

Community-led BRE is all about teamwork, so we encourage teams to attend training together. We also offer discounts for team attendance.

  • $750 - two registered community team members
  • $1,000 - three-to-five registered community members

The discount is only 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.


Course certification is available from Business Retention and Expansion International (BREI). This is an international association that promotes and educates about BRE. For a certification and membership fee, it will provide certification to people who successfully complete a University of Minnesota BRE course.

Meet the course instructors

Michael Darger and John Bennett are the course instructors.


Online course In-person course


The availability of an online class allowed our community BRE stakeholders to take this class together without leaving our community. The communication from the instructors was informative and prompt. The lessons were informative, and we all gained useful information for our next community BRE survey to have great results.

— Steve Roe (Grants Pass, Oregon)

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