Economic development entities focus on business retention

Originally published in The News Dispatch on 12/12/13.

Editor’s note: The following column was provided by the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, Indiana (EDCMC) and Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation (GLEDC).

The Economic Development Corporation Michigan City (EDCMC) and Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation (GLEDC) are not-for-profit organizations created to assist each respective city with new business attraction, retention and expansion services as well as location marketing. Understanding the importance of existing businesses to community economic development, the EDCMC and GLEDC formed a partnership in 2010 toward working together to establish a county-wide Business Retention and Expansion Program (BR&E) and provide community support for local businesses in Michigan City and La Porte.

The BR&E program goals are intended to:

  • Gain an understanding of the business community’s view of the local business climate
  • Determine future expansion/relocation plans of companies in order to set up an early warning system for local action
  • Acquaint business executives with the programs available through various economic development and government agencies to better strengthen their organization
  • Improve the communication and strengthen relationships between local/county government and the business community
  • Identify specific concerns and problems of local businesses and provide effective solutions

The program has completed 217 visits to local industrial, TDL and major commercial businesses since the inception of the program. There have been 110 companies requesting assistance for a variety of needs ranging from workforce development, local government services, location assistance, transportation/logistics and/or financial resources. The BR&E visits have also yielded a number of expansion projects and resulted in retaining and creating new job opportunities in Michigan City and La Porte.

The importance of the BR&E program is:

  • The majority of jobs are created by existing firms (80 percent)
  • Local company interaction can lead to an increase in sales
  • Keeping an existing business has a higher success rate than creating new business
  • Businesses that are more competitive are more likely to remain in the community and possibly expand due to the trusted relationship

The process begins with a scheduled site visit with managers and company executives to obtain specific information on the needs of the company. The information is then used to identify any potential problems and opportunities that could be addressed. The visit allows the EDCMC or GLEDC to proactively assess and act on challenges and opportunities affecting our local business community and to provide follow-up and services based on needs. The data is also tracked in a database that can later be used to identify trends, problem areas and growth segment of the local business community.

Kim Ramsey, Assistant Development Director with EDCMC and GLEDC, serves as a liaison between the general public, existing and prospect companies and vendors, focusing on business retention and expansion services within La Porte and Michigan City. For more information or to schedule a visit from Kim, please call the EDCMC at (219) 873-1211 or GLEDC at (219) 324-8584.