company’s facilities and the environment in which they exist can be a strong competitive advantage — or a persistent drag on profitability. There are many factors outside the control of a company that affect its bottom line, such as tax rates, infrastructure and the local education system, to name a few.
In addition, the overall “business climate” — a term that generally encompasses intangibles such as local support for business, permitting and the regulatory environment — can make a difference. An individual company generally has no control over such factors at the national or state levels, but it often can influence them at the local level.
Leaders in most communities are quick to realize that if a company shuts down or moves away, local jobs and tax revenues will be adversely affected. As a result, many of these communities offer proactive assistance to local businesses to help resolve issues, improve the business climate or even provide marketing assistance. The common name for these activities is business retention and expansion (BRE), reflecting the goal of these activities — to help prevent existing business from moving away, and ensure that company expansions take place locally and not at another location.
Generally BRE services are offered through community economic development organizations (EDOs) or offices, but related organizations such as chambers of commerce often provide them as well.
The scope of BRE programs varies greatly across communities. Some programs are extremely well funded and aggressively seek out businesses that could benefit from their services. Others aren’t as well funded and mainly respond to requests for assistance. Some local businesses may not be aware of the benefits that local BRE programs can provide. On the flip side, some local economic developers may not be aware of how much local businesses need BRE services.
Good communications between economic development organizations and local companies is important to ensure that BRE programs have the greatest positive impact for both sides. More than communications, a good partnership between local companies and EDOs can provide a mechanism to actually help shape the local business climate, and therefore more directly influence those factors mentioned above that can influence the bottom line.
Good communications between economic development organizations and local companies is important to ensure that BRE programs have the greatest positive impact for both sides