Business Retention and Expansion
Group assignment discussing Economic Development for Urban Planners. Concept: To write a chapter in an instructional book (the tally of the class compiled in to a completed assignment)
Christopher Evan Jones
- Section 5.3 A Case Study
- Section 5.4 Developing Economic Communities
- Section 5.5 Identifying Trends
- Section 5.6 Predicting Trends and Pressures
- Section 5.7 Conclusion
Business retention and expansion (BR&E) Priority should be to work with businesses already in the area to ensure their needs are satisfied and help them expand; creating a supportive culture for businesses that will be attractive to other businesses. Potential investors may interview local business owners during their site selection research process, and any demonstration of a community’s pro-business attitude existing programs such as local business support programs, are a strong incentive.
- Statistics show that “around 60%-80% of all new jobs come from existing businesses in an area”, (Phillips, P. D., 1996).
- Businesses are making relocation decisions every day.
- One objective of having a BR&E program is to better understand the decision factors that influence intra-regional business relocations and to better understand the economic impact of the relocation on its current location’s community.
- Recognizing areas of high turnover as indicative of issues that must be addressed through a strategic and comprehensive BR&E program. Lengthy property vacancies hurt an area’s economic development and affect an outsider’s perception of an area.
- High business retention projects the area in a positive light and motivates other businesses to also establish a base in the area.
- A good strategy for expansion is both cost-effective and efficient.
- Business expansion can mean anything from expanding the infrastructure to an increase in capitol, to the number of employees.
- The benefits of a BR&E program include the evasion of potential lost jobs and the overall economic impact an area experiences when a major corporation or even a smaller established, local business shuts down or leaves. Retained businesses have higher expansion potential and the employees from these businesses are already trained, providing an appealing human resource pool.
- Every community should have a BR&E program because everyone benefits. The factors that make a community attractive to outside investors – reasonable operating costs, available infrastructure and sites for expansion, a supportive and cooperative local government, and high quality living conditions – are the very same factors that ensure the continued operation, contentment and growth of existing businesses. When local businesses thrive, so do their communities. Supporting businesses development opportunities gives businesses contentment to remain where they are and they actively participate in a sustainable cycle of job creation and tax revenue.
- BR&E programs are in no way “mutually exclusive or antagonistic to business attraction programs”(Phillips, P. D., 1996).
- When established companies move out of an area, or when corporate downsizing∕ restructuring occurs, the action has the potential to devastate a community. When large numbers of people with similar job skills suddenly re-enter the job market within a smaller community, the competition makes it extremely difficult to get a new job. Also, older workers that are close to retirement age have an even harder time finding new employment, because the cost for retraining may be too high and they are not viewed as a good investment by the company. On the other hand, in dealing with corporate restructuring, retention and expansion have an upside as well. Generally, as a multi-location company closes some facilities, it moves the operations from the closed facility to remaining facilities, which in turn benefit from increased numbers of employees and investment.
Existing businesses are major contributors to a community’s economic development and tax revenues. Collectively, they employ the highest numbers especially when they go through expansions and their role as ambassadors to the community provide valuable incentive to potential new business investors.
According to Phillips, the overall mission of a good BR&E program must be to support local businesses to become more competitive thus allowing for expansion. To achieve this mission, a BR&E program must meet a variety of goals such as:
- demonstrating commitment to existing industry
- increasing productivity of the local work force
- assisting local firms to find technical assistance
- creating an early-warning system so as to be aware of facility reductions or closures
- providing networking opportunities so that firms can work together to solve common problems
- providing a unified voice for business in dealing with legislative issues
- improving the local quality of life
- working to correct general business climate liabilities and capitalize on assets
- attracting local investment into the area
- working with individual firms to address their specific problems
To accomplish these goals, a retention program would need a well thought out and comprehensive development strategy, along with passion and persistence to succeed.
5.2 BR&E Technical Models
The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce BR&E program provides a model of the 4 keys to successful retention and expansion:
- Prioritize a business retention and expansion program within the company.
- Provide an unwavering commitment of funding and human resources to allow for up-to-date interactions and research that yield valuable information on a company’s position.
- Carefully plan and target efforts to allow for optimization of resources and higher success rates.
- Integrate retention efforts into all organizational activities so all relevant invested parties are informed and involved.
There are four key components of a good retention program:
- Compile Employer Information – Develop a detailed database of basic company information and statistics, such as number of employees, products, the company’s address, business contact person, phone number, e-mail address, who the company’s top executives are, etc. This general knowledge portrays interest in the company and allows the CEO Interviews to be more focused on industry insights.
- Conduct CEO Interviews – Effective surveys should be purposive, strategic telephone or personal interviews that consist of open-ended questions regarding current market research, business climate options, business climate ratings, labour availability, corporate expansion or relocation plans, predictive information and customer satisfaction. Changes in attitudes of customers are predictive of problem identification (if negative) and service improvements (if positive).
- Compile and Analyze the Data – Analysis of all the interviews and surveys, and preforming a risk-assessment through strategic questioning would enlighten the researchers to potential priority issues that need to be assessed. The cumulative responses from the surveys help researchers identify competitive advantages, trends, opportunities and constraints.
- Compose a Strategic Marketing Plan – Give consideration to action indicators from survey assessments. Decide how the survey results affects marketing strategy, consider any implications, risk factor, if more extensive research is necessary, attitudes, responses, opportunities for business attraction. Focus responses to solving existing businesses’ immediate problems. Pre-emptive actions work best in this scenario because action is taken before the situation is dire.
To show their support and foster working relationships and trust with the local businesses, community economic development offices could also consider offering the following services to existing manufacturing companies:
- Compilation and publication of a directory of major corporations and employers. It would serve as a human capital tool and a networking tool for the area that could also be utilized by other departments.
- Formation of a liaison committee with the economic development department, community business managers, the mayor, city manager, or other city management officials whose purpose is to hold meetings (monthly or quarterly) to discuss any concerns or suggestions they have. The goal being to foster and maintain working relationships that ensure companies remain.
- Maintain a database of area statistics, including demographics, a current list of available expansion properties, utility information, and laws pertaining to zoning, environment and taxes.
5.2.1 BR&E Models
- The Ombudsman Approach – A proactive problem solving approach involving written communication between business leaders, the local government, relevant stakeholders and committees. Review survey assessments and take action to solve issues. For example, if the issue is declining market, build a support team to research options, new or compatible markets for the company. Operating within a specified time period, inform clientele of actions, and make periodic progress reports to company.
- The Cooperative Extension Model (An External Approach) – The Cooperative Extension Model is an early model for community based manufacturing outreach. The program utilizes survey format to assess the needs of local manufacturing businesses and develops a task force of community leaders to make recommendations for any identified issues.
- NIST’s Manufacturing Outreach Model (An Internal Approach) – The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) created the model to help mid-sized manufacturing companies (less than 500 people employed) to upgrade their business practices allowing for improved business performance. Some issues it addresses are poor quality, high inventory, long lead times, and shrinking margins. NIST Centers work individually with manufacturers to make improvements to a specific aspect of their business operation.
- The Competitive Advantage Model – This model addresses both internal and external factors at the same time to effectively combine the best aspects of the other two manufacturing outreach models, the Cooperative Extension Model and the NIST’s Manufacturing Outreach Model, to give manufacturers a more competitive stance. All manufacturing businesses must continually improve themselves to stay current and profitable. This model suggests the company’s management team maximize their point of quality, price, and/or method of delivery. Those companies employing the Competitive Advantage Model “can be super-innovative in their use of new process technologies, marketing, or service techniques to capture niches where others would find it difficult to compete” (Hines, B., & Clark, S., 1997). External improvements pertain to taxes, labour force availability, fees and training, and are tied to conditions outside the influence of the company’s management such as the economic and political realms. Public- Private Partnerships would be promoted for higher levels of community involvement with the company to maximize both internal and external improvements.Some retention programs consider soliciting other local businesses that stand to benefit from retaining these manufacturing companies, to raise funds to support them.
- MO-GRO: Missouri’s Growth and Retention Opportunities Program – Missouri’s Growth and Retention Opportunities Program utilizes best practices from other models to empower communities to establish effective BR&E programs. The basic goals of the program are:
- Identifying at-risk companies and providing necessary assistance to retain them.
- Identifying growth- potential companies and providing assistance with their expansion efforts.
- On-going involvement and support of community leaders for existing businesses, and educating them on economic development issues.
- Create more opportunities for local governments to more efficiently direct financial assistance to existing businesses.
Various approaches to BR&E programs have different strengths and weaknesses. The reactive or responsive approach taken by most communities are usually more intensive, take on a ‘crisis management’ role, and provide immediate applicable technical assistance to the specific company. Whereas, it is not anticipatory and may attempt to address problem after it is already too late. The anticipatory programs, usually found in university extension programs and communication companies extensively address all businesses within targeted community’s range, but due to the broad focus, may not always respond with the kind of intensive technical assistance as the former programs.
The primary reason for lack of success of a BR&E program is improper time management, “…activities with a critical time frame often push aside the vital but non-critical activities of business retention and expansion” (Phillips, P. D., 1996).
5.3 A Case Study
On February 3rd, 2012 the ElectroMotive Diesel manufacturing plant in London, Ontario shuttered their factory floor after 62-years of operation. This comes after a long strike by employees after first having their workforce cut down and them being asked by its new multinational parent company Caterpillar to halve the salaries of their remaining employees. The argument made was these measures were required to remain cost-competitive to other markets, regardless of their posting of a $5 billion dollar profit last fiscal year. The end result was the direct loss of over 700 people in the community and unforeseen losses from auxiliary jobs from the lost income and a $1 billion dollar hit to the regions GDP, or approximately 5% (Grant, 2012).
While London, Ontario has an active Economic Development department that helps with applications to government grants and export assistance, current models used in BR&E failed to keep this and other companies from moving out of other Ontario regions. London has a high number of educated people with sought-after skills; there was little incentive within the city to encourage Caterpillar from moving. Moreover this was not a loss to an overseas emerging economy, but a move of just 800-km over the border where union legislation is more lax with wages and employment was depressed after a hard economic recession (Grant, 2012).
There was no quick fix to this situation. Monetary incentives are not allowed under Canadian law and corporate tax rates are already lower in Canada than the United States. $5 million dollars of tax credits were dispatched by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008. What could have been done would have been more long-term determination and actively seeking the advice of the parent company to discover their needs and potential reasons for leaving. As well, identifying the industry as a major contributor to the economy and leveraging their suppliers and customers with incentives for relocation closer to the city may have made it a more impossible situation for the company to consider leaving. Working with other levels of governments to promote the business on trade missions may have made them feel more inclusive to the Canadian market and entice loyalty.
Co-operation with the company would have also stopped the consumer backlash that occurred after the move. Mark’s Work Warehouse, the largest supplier of trade uniforms and the clothing arm of Canadian Tire, pulled all Caterpillar goods, including their high-selling construction boots, from their shelves after the announcement to close the plant until workers were fairly dealt with (Canadian Press, 2012). As we emerge from the recent economic downturn and return to levels seen before 2008, resource prices are distend to rise back up to record levels and the dollar will advance above and beyond parity. This will place pressure on industries such as manufacturing and exports, which still constitute the third largest job numbers in Canada. Creating an environment that will retain industry and allow them to flourish will ensure that the next decade is not a repeat of mistakes seen in the past (Bradford, 2003).
5.4 Developing Economic Communities
As with any structure, the survival of a viable and expansive business culture requires as sound and sure foundation. The communities that surround a business support their staff, production and ability to grow; and the quality of these communities provide reasons to remain, curtailing the lure of other economic areas and encourage growth if they are seen as attractive and stable over the long term.
A region must be open, creative, sound and, more relative today, green in order to retain and attract business. New or expanding industries need the support both of the community and its levels of administration in order to thrive – building new economic connections and leverage the surrounding physical and social capital to excel.
5.4.1 Open Communities
- Transparent and Co-operative Policy Structure – A change in the recent administration at Toronto City Hall called in to question the expediency of the Waterfront redevelopment, a plan that called for systematic and thorough allocation of services and development over the next two decades. The existing internationally-awarded plan attracted the attention of multinational, Texas-based Hines development group and their proposal became their first foray in to the hot Canadian market. Differing views and closed-door maneuvering of the new administration threatened the project that would have brought over 650,000 sq. ft. of new office and retail space (Hume, 2012)Developing a transparent and transitional policy structure is required to effectively attract and retain business.
- Multi-Tier Participation and Co-operation – Businesses require support from all levels of governance, specifically if they are geared toward inter-regional or international trade. Working with upper-tier economic development departments or combining policy to eliminate bureaucracy will simply business expansion and cut costs on transactions, freeing revenue for other activities. Smaller communities can benefit from regional or national program, such as capital funds, tax rebates or training programs. Tying local economic policy to other agencies can show strong support for businesses and communities (Bradford, 2003).
- Web Portal Technology – eGovernment refers to services and information about municipal policies available openly online as well as connecting the differing silos of services together. By eliminating the leg-work and time required to approach city services businesses feel better suited to conduct expansion in a specific area. See Chapter 8: Information Technologies as an Enabler to Economic Development
- Open Data – Open Data facilities works off the concept of the Open Source movement in computer programming, where public information is freely and easily distributed by city departments for non-commercial uses. This not only projects a vision of a transparent government but encourages research and development with social ingenuity. Currently, most major metropolitan areas in Canada have adopted – in varying degrees – open data technology with measureable success and provincial government beginning to follow suit (Open Knowledge Foundation, 2011)
5.4.2 Creative Communities
- Post-Secondary Education – University and Colleges not only contribute to a growing creative class, but add research avenues to the community that businesses may leverage or collaborate with. Schools can provide valuable research at limited costs, new technologies or methodologies of manufacturing and stand to replenish the workforce with highly educated young adults – required to combat trends in demographics as baby boomers retire (Florida, 2002).
- On-Going Training – Shifting economic conditions, new technologies and changing international social dynamics require employees to be up-to-date with new methodologies of conducting business and manufacturing. Providing the facilities and grants to continue to improve human capital will ensure industries that a rolling-stock of employees is readily available and able to work in complex or technical employment.
Ontario Ministry for Agricultural, Food and Rural Affairs works with small communities and businesses through its RED (Rural Economic Development) program creating skill-based training for the food processing sector for jobs retention (M0AFRA, 2011).
- International Accreditation Acceptance – Canada has been built by immigration since its inception, but recent arrivals are finding it harder to ply their profession. The immigration system requires, through a point-based system, to have specific levels of education for entry which local schools or businesses do not recognise. Developing training and programs to integrate new arrivals can provide higher levels of available human capital as well as connections to overseas markets (Schellenberg & Boyd, 2008).
- Research & Development (R&D) Investment –
Business expansion comes from new opportunities and ideas. Providing loans for small business or creating culture centres for the open sharing of ideas can create new innovations or help industries find new business partners. Design exchanges and collaborative environments, seen with the health sciences and technology driven MaRS facility in Toronto not only provide services to the surrounding hospitals, they create new markets and inter-industry trade. Often, these facilities require only a small bit of seed money to begin and incentives through donated land, simplified application and development processes and incremental financing to ensure time for roots to take hold in the business community (Treurnicht, 2011).
- Subject Matter Experts (SME) Availability – Industries, particularly small- or medium-sized or new technology up-starts do not necessarily have the resources to hire full-time employees for particular tasks, such as patent lawyers, computer developers or marketing executives. Attracting these professional services available within the community encourage smaller companies to remain and expand and attract new clusters as success builds. Larger businesses benefit from these outside consulting services for fresh ideas or third-party confirmation for policies.
5.4.3 Sound Communities
- Fiscal Stability – Industries perform due diligence on every investment, including its potential hires. Establishing a new business or expanding an existing one follows the same process and it is ideal for a community to easily show its potential value in the present and in the long-term. Having a sound budgetary process and wide margins in tax levies allow more room for creative financing or capital support meet changing business needs.
- Incentives and Opportunity – Even large businesses sometimes need assistance in capital investments, even at the best of times. Taxes incentives, such as incremental financing, simplified development charges, research and development grants and creative partner-pairing can build loyalty within the community.
- Established Social Services – While universal access to health care and lower cost prescriptions have been a draw for companies from the United States – other services have to be ready and plentiful within the community and geared to current or potential employees. Understanding the needs of each industry and their workers can direct city services to encourage growth and attract similar businesses.
- Happy & Healthy Employees – Leveraging the natural capital and providing recreational facilities create a healthy and productive work force, expanding business opportunities and providing incentive to keep businesses local. The City of Caledon uses its natural resources to develop recreational and outdoor programs not only to benefit tourism, but to keep one of its largest employers, Husky Injection Moulding – known for its program of maintaining healthy and fitness-oriented work environment – active in the community.
5.4.4 Green Communities
- Carbon Footprint – LEED certified buildings, recycling programs, alternative energy sources and zero-impact landscaping are all bonuses used by companies to reflect a green initiative that attracts customers, meets ISO or FSC requirements and allows for trading in eco-funds, building interest, loyalty and capital with its customer base.
- Environmental Credits – Developing credits for inventive eco-friendly ideas or offering community services matched to time shifts to ensure that a company’s employees are serviced with a public transportation alternative help alleviate or eliminate traffic, often an undue stress placed on workers that affects productivity. Attracting creative talent often needs an employer to show interest in making life easier and better for them and the community.
- Government Support & FIT Programs – Not only do green technologies reduce the carbon-footprint and make energy consumption costs more predictable, often with government support and Feed-In Tariff programs can create profit for industries with large excess output. Combine the uses of waste and want between industries can create a network chain of disposal that will not only benefit each business but limit the expenditures for city departments that service these business areas. Development charges can also be lowered for green-roof technologies (MoEDI, 2012).
5.5 Identifying Trends
5.5.1 Enterprise Clustering
- Broad and Deep – The ideal economic climate is one that has a multitude of differing industries with a number of supportive industries to create networks, limit costs and foster competition. The ideal marketplace for business is one that fosters creativity; a dynamic spectrum of services, markets and feed-ins; and hold regional and international connection (EIU, 2012).
- Horizontal and Vertical – Economic clustering, horizontally with similar industries or vertically with feed-in or out-put sectors of existing companies can lead to expansion of existing business. This can be from competition or collaboration, building economies of scale and decreasing transportation costs and meeting Just-In-Time delivery (JIT). Horizontal expansion also allows for economic redundancy so that if a firm fails for whatever reason, others would be available to ensure that there is no stoppage in the supply chain (Casico, 2009).
- Diversity – Depending on a single industry, however lucrative, is open to changes in the economic climate or changes in technology or consumer sentiment. Elliot Lake is a prime example how a city, once dedicated to Uranium production collapsed not because of lack of the resource, but changes in international policy, public opinion and commodity speculation. Capitalising on its former success, profits were used to create two alternative industries, one vertically from its original becoming the leader in decommissioning mines and the other leveraging the natural and physical capital left over from the industry – creating a tourist destination (Planscape, 2006).
- Inventorying Existing Businesses – Understanding the current business climate and its direction aids in finding current deficiencies in the overall economic health of the region. Querying local business leaders and conducting annual surveys help expose trends, track successful policy and quickly indicate when certain policies may have outlived their usefulness – freeing up capital for other development. The Toronto Employment Survey, conducted annually by students, helps the economic development department find areas of new clustering and exposes warning signs that can grow in to unwieldy problems down the road.
- Projecting Future Opportunities – Understanding the needs of current industries is only the first step in retaining employment. Working with companies in preparing a long-term vision and providing the resources to determine future needs can help executives build investment in capital and ensure that city resources are efficiently and effectively spread.
5.5.2 Competitive Indexes
- Quality of Life and Human Capital – Professional services companies and international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Economic Forum regularly develop indexes rating cities and countries on their performance and opportunity for business development. In recent years, metrics such as the quality of life and knowledge capacity have been ranking more heavily in the termination of successful regions (WEF, 2011).
Ensuring that the people of a region are properly serviced and have access to quality healthcare and education creates capacity to attract new industries that are evolving out of the wake of globalisation and the shift of business overseas.
- Repairing Physical Capital –
Much of the utility and transportation infrastructure in Western nations was built just after World War II and has long past their expected life-span. It is estimated that the infrastructure deficit for municipalities alone in Canada is over $100 billion (Mirza & Sipos, 2009) dollars while austerity measures both federally and provincially is making it difficult to partner with these governments for matching money.
A recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit places Toronto at 12th in the world as a Competitive Hotspot (2012). While impressive, this value severely under represents specific parameters, such scoring extremely high on Institutional Effectiveness and Fiscal Maturity. This is because Toronto ranks only 36th when compared to other economic centres in Physical Capital. Toronto currently has one of the worst commute times of all major economic centres and at the root of this issue is the lackluster development of interregional transportation networks and decades of planning that encourages sprawl rather than transit-oriented development.
5.5.3 Think Locally and Act Globally
- Online Interactive Presence – Reaching out to new business connections in the past required tradeshows and leg work. While this has not fundamentally changed, more often businesses search for new locations individually using the Internet. Having an online presence that is complete, concurrent and comprehensive will leverage new industries that may not have thought of a specific region for redevelopment and advertise the existing businesses to a global market.
- Trade Missions – Trade missions to the locations where current local businesses conduct businesses can cement current contracts and foster new ones. Understanding their existing customers and inviting business leaders along will strengthen the ties that bind economic communities. The province of British Columbia has established strategic offices in the United States, Europe and China to assist companies to conduct business overseas and create and foster international relations easier (City of Vernon, 2010).
- International Ambassadors – Once having a connection with another trading partner, keeping that connection alive and healthy requires constant care and consistent attention. Foreign companies require constant feedback on their investment and having a direct source for answer questions and providing new opportunities will ensure that local businesses have the capacity to expand (City of Vernon, 2010).
- Emerging Markets and Leveraging Immigration – Western nations have been destinations for immigration for over a century, integrating people, language and cultures from around the world in a single location. As these former immigration source countries’ economies emerge, industrialise and modernise, creating valuable business networks between them is vital to maintaining local businesses and preparing them for full globalisation.
By understanding the local community and encouraging businesses to hire recent immigrants will bring the nuances of cultural differences, break language barriers and provide contacts to conduct business in other parts of the world. These connections will also foster international interest in the local economy and may bring foreign investment.
5.6 Predicting Trends and Pressures
- Emerging Economies – BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have dramatically changed the industrial manufacturing community in North America and Europe, but these emerging economies are also entering white-collar markets, developing computer software sectors, financial and customer service centres. Industries that once solely supported an entire town now outsource services to these nations who have been active in developing the technology and knowledge to effectively provide these services at the same quality but with more efficiency (Thomson Reuters, 2012).
More effort in the future will be required to approach international and global enterprises to build bridges between Western and Emerging markets and encouraging innovation-heavy industries that develop new products rather than repeat existing designs (Pink, 2005).
- Shifting Middle-Class – With the disappearance of manufacturing jobs leaves too the monies these middle-class jobs provided and that supported the small to medium size businesses associated with disposable income. Department stores, Restaurants and independent industries that provide services to local markets cannot survive without a strong and predictable customer-base with adequate level of income, contributing to a downward spiral and the race to the bottom (Hulchanski, 2006).
Attracting new technology industries and encouraging growth of current industries will be required to build a new class of citizens to support secondary services. The City of Sudbury has lost a number of high paying jobs due to efficiencies in mining operations. Leveraging on being the high-education centre of Northern Ontario and with subsidies from both provincial and federal departments, Sudbury is now a leader in creative technologies and application development, creating a diverse economy that can feed in to the existing mining sector (Donald & Hall, 2009).
- Environmental Challenge – Regardless of what side of the global warming debate you may exist on, it would be without merit not to agree that environmental and meteorological conditions are changing throughout the world. Dealing with record droughts, increasing severe weather events and inconstant seasons can affect industries that require temperate weather for delivery or construction, tourism industries both summer and winter and manufacturing that requires energy or water input. In the more extreme cases, ports or rivers could dry up or land connects cutting-off or washing away could cost an area and its industries billions in lost revenue and productivity (WMO, 2012).
Climate change will affect a regions ability to retain business and mediating before mitigating the problems will better show a administrations goal of protecting the private industries assets, encouraging productivity and expansion.
- Peak Everything – While there has been talk over Peak Oil for over half a century, there is in fact a peak to all resources we use in manufacturing including aluminum, coal, phosphorus and copper (Biello, 2006). More disconcerting is the availability of rare-earth metals, currently only located at-large in countries such as China – and the costs required to extract and distribute these resources effectively. These metals are much of the driving forces behind many new technologies in the green energy and home electronic sectors (Washington Post, 2012).
- Resilient vs. Sustainable – A paradigm shift has occurred in planning direction is from the status quo of sustainable development – integrating the economic, social and environmental capacities of a city to arrive an equilibrium –to a resilient model that is both sustainable in the short-term but impervious to outside pressures in the long (Casico, 2009). Shifts in economic stability and the effects of ecological and environmental change require planners and business leaders to project 100 years down the road, rather than 5, 10 or 25 years as previously sought milestones.
Attracting a business to a region is only the first step in creating a dynamic economic community. Cataloguing industry, creating liaisons between the administration and business leaders, listening and understanding the needs of both the business and its employees and partnering with different levels of government, participating in trade missions and providing the incentives for expansion are all activities required to be conducted to ensure that new business thrive and propels expansion.
While there are many BR&E models to choose from, picking the best one for a single community or region can being committed with immediacy or incrementally depending on the resources available and conditions that exist or those desired. The use of new technologies, including web portals and social networking has made selling a community much easier, specifically for smaller towns – but this has also upped the ante in competing for new industries as more markets are made available for real estate research.
Whatever the collection of utilities and activities used, it must be geared toward developing a sustainable and resilient community that creates a productive workforce and a stable business environment that attracts new business while encouraging existing industries to remain and expand their services. While the global world economic is extremely lucrative, it is also fraught with new problems. The interconnectivity of regional markets can start a domino effect when one component falters – destroying the insular effect that once protected local businesses. New multinationals can create hostile environments for small and burgeoning businesses while attracting and keeping these large business can also mean a windfall for community revenue. Changing business methods and models must mean new planning regiments and the municipal Economic Development departments are not immune. Integration between silos and having a proactive staff is required to foster these economic communities and business connections – and move above and beyond the status quo.
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