Statistics show that between “40 and 80 percent of new jobs are created by existing businesses.” This means that retaining healthy existing businesses is essential to the local economy. If existing businesses close or relocate, it leaves “missing teeth” in the smile of your downtown, negatively impacting the remaining businesses. It’s important to not take your existing businesses for granted!
Business retention and expansion requires that communities provide the right environment, as well as processes, that enable businesses to thrive. Here are a few tips for communities looking to do business retention.
1. Understand strengths and stakeholders. Whether you are an individual business, a commercial district, or an entire community, it is important to understand your assets and resources. This includes understanding your community stakeholders, which may be other businesses, residents, service providers, or the local government. Communities who understand the resources available and the environment in which they work have the ability to compliment rather than compete with neighbors. This is a formula for the whole community to prosper together.
2. Develop long-term goals. No matter if you are an individual business, a commercial district, or an entire community, it is important to develop a series of objectives for which to aim. Creation of a strategic plan that includes clear tasks and timelines will help to ensure that you will have measureable results and the ability to move forward.
3. Create a local advisory committee. Creating regular communications with stakeholders is key to continued success in planning for successful businesses. This could be a formal committee or a casual chat over coffee. Communities who are able to access ideas and action from businesses and residents will be better placed to provide the support their businesses need to not only survive, but to thrive.
4. Identify business resources. Business owners are often so busy that they don’t have time to research resources that are available to them. If the district manager is able to identify and make available a list of training, funds, tax abatements, and counseling services to support local business, it will help businesses to access the support they need.
5. Gather data and statistics. While not every community can afford a full market analysis, developing some understanding of a few key factors can help you to gain insight into your local economy. Important market indicators that even small communities can tackle include which businesses exist, how rents and property values compare to neighboring communities, and which trends have historically impacted your market.
If you are interested in moving forward with developing a business retention strategy, please get in touch with DCI. We can suggest a plan and make referrals for your community.