Last month, SeonAh Kendall, Economic Health Manager in Fort Collins, Colorado, shared with Economic Development Secrets listeners that her community didn’t have a business retention program when she started in 2012. It was up to her design a department based on what kind of BRE activity Fort Collins was in need of. See the excerpt below to see what works for her community.
We are focused on primary employers, so employers that export at least 50% of their goods outside of the city limits and bring new dollars back into the city. Typically most folks think of that as large businesses but those are the small businesses, as well. We’ve got companies that have 5, 10 to 15 employees that also are doing a lot of exporting out of the community in terms of their product and bringing new dollars in
A couple things that we did was we have what we call our Kitchen Cabinet Breakfast. They’re a monthly breakfast. We invite C-level folks to those breakfasts and we try to coordinate those so that we’ve got, let’s say, folks in the beer industry in one month and we have folks in manufacturing in another month, aerospace in another month. We try to gear that towards those industries.
What we do is we meet for breakfast and we just say what’s keeping you up at night. Surprisingly, that takes usually an hour, hour and a half and it’s a small, intimate group of about 10 of us. It gives the businesses an opportunity to get outside of their business and hear what’s going on locally with the other companies that they might not have known at that point. It gives them an opportunity to network and maybe collaborate on future projects. The Kitchen Cabinet Breakfast has been very successful for us.
Click below to listen to SeonAh’s full interview: