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Communities use BR&E to focus on keeping and creating local business and jobs. Research-based programs and online resources help the community move from ideas to actions that support businesses already existing in their vicinity.

Learn more about BR&E.

Connect with BR&E

Find a Community Economics Regional Educator near you.

Michael Darger
Program Director
462 Coffey Hall
1420 Eckles Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108-6070
Phone: 612-625-6246
Search Business Retention & Expansion:

Extension > Community > Business Retention & Expansion

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Helping Minnesota communities retain and expand their businesses

Retaining and expanding existing businesses is a surer economic development bet than recruiting new ones from other towns. Extension helps communities understand local business needs and respond - so that businesses stay, grow, and become more committed to the community. Our BR&E Strategies program gets the broader community involved in comprehensive business retention and expansion planning.

We also offer here case studies, community stories, reports and sample surveys that will help you think about business retention and expansion for your community.

"Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) builds capacity. The program takes the existing resources of a community and employs them to create a strategic design to help local businesses... The consultants don't do the work for the community, they just help the community to accept the challenge, 'We're going to do this, and we're going to do it well.'"
Earl Netwal, BR&E consultant to the Faribault, MN project

During the past 25 years, Extension has helped more than 70 cities, counties, or regions show businesses they care. BR&E Strategies' proven community organizing strategies, effective interview guides, and expert analysis of local conditions will help your community get it done right.

Want help for your ongoing business retention and expansion projects? Our BR&E Tools provide access to research, survey questions, and coaching sessions that help you do it your way with a little bit of help along the way.

University of Minnesota Extension now cooperates with the Grow Minnesota! program of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to advance business retention and expansion efforts statewide. Professionals from Extension and Grow Minnesota! can team up on joint BR&E efforts in your community. Both Extension and Grow Minnesota! will work with businesses and communities to determine the BR&E program that best meets their needs.

The field of economic development and business retention constantly learns and shares. The University of Minnesota Extension is here to help. Our approach is to involve the broader community in addressing the needs and concerns of local businesses. Beyond creating productive local projects, our approach strengthens ties within the community, and among non-profit, government and business organizations and leaders.


Register for a 2017 BR&E Course

Looking for ways to help your local businesses survive and grow? Sign up for a 2017 BR&E course and learn how to conduct effective BR&E strategies programs. Online and in-person courses available. Learn more and sign up.

BR&E Strategies Program

The BR&E Strategies Program makes local businesses more competitive by evaluating and addressing some of their key needs and concerns. more

Research & Development

Extension has conducted research about its programs and approach since the beginning. Read evaluations and reports from through the years. more

Sample Reports & Surveys

See a selection of summary reports & surveys created directly from programs. more

BR&E Tools

Our BR&E Tools offer a collection of online resources to help support business retention and expansion. more

BR&E Course

University of Minnesota Extension has offered business retention and expansion courses since 1996. You can now take an all-online offering (over 8 weeks) or attend an in-person workshop (3 days elapsed time). more

BR&E Stories & Case Studies

Read and view stories of successful BR&E case studies.

Workshop & Research Services

Extension has conducted research about its programs and approach since the beginning. Read evaluations and reports from through the years. more

BR&E Program Awards & Distinctions

Recognition received for excellence in BR&E through the years. more

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