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Business Retention and Expansion


~by Heather Strohm

Regional Extension Educator, Community Development – Purdue University


COVID-era technology allows workers to accept positions virtually anywhere, and anywhere virtually.  For that reason, individuals can choose to prioritize quality of life over proximity to work. This can be a real threat to communities that haven’t focused on quality of life and where amenities are often lacking.

Improving quality of life is a complex task. Some communities have a history of complacency while others actively seek new opportunities to foster community vitality.  Through capacity building, robust data analysis and participatory techniques, Purdue Extension works with economic development officials to move counties forward by promoting business development. Purdue’s Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) program seeks to foster collaboration amongst stakeholders to positively impact economies while deepening conversations about bettering communities. Through these BR&E efforts, communities are able to support their businesses, workforce base and overall environment proactively by identifying what are the challenges potentially facing companies and their employees.

Nearly 85% of all job growth in Indiana is derived from companies in stages 0, 1 or 2 (companies with less than 100 employees). BR&E focuses on increasing growth and retention opportunities for these types of companies, also called SMEs (small- to medium-sized enterprises). These opportunities often yield better quality of life in the region. Indiana is one of the fastest-growing states, currently ranked No. 9. As more people relocate to Indiana, opportunities for existing businesses grow. Consider how you can support your communities to increase economic development and quality of life initiatives through Business Retention & Expansion. Are you purchasing local products and services? For every dollar spent locally, about 68 cents stays local. That means you paying firemen, police officers, teachers, librarians and other public servants to maintain and beautify the community. Shopping locally also means less environmental impact and support for community causes.

Each service or product purchased by an SME supports infrastructure through the tax base. Community infrastructure includes but is not limited to water, sewage, roads, highways, and sidewalks. These necessities are imperative for retaining and growing businesses across the state. Identifying an evidence-based process and engagement plan will elevate the community and businesses alike.

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