We have worked with several business retention and expansion organizations (BRE) that support local municipalities and economic development associations over the years. These BRE groups are charged with trying to retain and grow local jobs. In order to be successful, these organizations need to have some information in advance of what could happen to local jobs, of what could happen to local facilities, of what could happen to local employers.
So with our BRE clients, we suggest that they conduct surveys, if possible, on an annual basis. These surveys are either online, via the telephone, or via in-person interviews where local business leaders 1-on-1 are providing information. The information they provide to the BRE staff includes their thoughts on the local business climate, trends in their industry, and their current company’s financial performance. But one key set of questions that also needs to be included relates to business retention. In other words, if you are a business retention and expansion organization wanting to be proactive in retaining and growing local jobs, you need to have intelligence that enables you to look into the future.
Every survey, every tool, every instrument that is trying to garner intelligence for BRE organizations needs to make sure it is asking the basic and tough questions that it should:
- How likely is the business to relocate in the next 12 months?
- What leadership changes are expected over the next 1 to 2 years?
- If facilities are leased, will those leases come due in the next 12 months?
- Are you being recruited right now by other municipalities?
- What change in the number of jobs are you expecting locally over the next 12 months?
If organizations truly want to live their core mission, they need to be willing to ask the tough questions.
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