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Extension > Community > Business Retention & Expansion > About BR&E

About BR&E

Research shows that up to 86 percent of new jobs are created by existing businesses in a community, rather than businesses attracted to a community*. Keeping an existing business in the community is usually easier than recruiting a new business. Therefore, Extension's BR&E program has offerings that help community leaders and communities to work together to identify barriers local businesses face as they try to survive and grow. See the most current evidence of BR&E's significance.

Richmond (MN) BR&E task force choosing the BR&E implementation projects that they want to do.

BR&E Strategies Program -- With the help of University of Minnesota Extension expertise, the community personally interviews local businesses and analyzes the results. The resulting report provides valuable information and ideas to invigorate the local economy through targeted action. BR&E reports don't sit on a shelf. Because the BR&E process leads the community through three major steps - Research, Prioritize, Implement - ideas turn into action. View the BR&E Flow Chart (PDF).

Extension has served economic development efforts in Minnesota through its Business Retention and Expansion program since 1990. We're eager to share what we've learned with the economic development field and, especially, with Minnesota communities.

For a detailed overview of the BR&E Strategies approach you could review this booklet.


"The community of Menahga is a more positive place to live, work and play as a result of the City of Menahga's partnership with the University of Minnesota Extension in the BR&E program. Over 52 businesses were surveyed in our city of 1,300 residents. Community stakeholders took the information from the surveys and created working teams of citizens to bring the following: More affordable housing; entertainment; an awareness of our business community and opportunities for our youth. The City of Menahga now has a concerted effort to help the businesses within the community grow and prosper."
Elizabeth "Liz" Olson (September 2013)
Menahga Civic & Commerce President
Greener Tomorrows, Joint Business Owner
Menahga BR&E Leadership Team

"The City of Forest Lake partnered with the University of Minnesota with their BR&E Program. It has been a tremendous success. Through the process, we have greatly improved the communication between businesses and City Hall. The business community feels they have a voice in some of the decisions being made, as well as having input in future changes within our City. Businesses in our community do not want a handout, they want less restrictions put on them. The BR&E Program is benefiting all stakeholders in our community."
Stev Stegner
Mayor 2006 - 2010
Rapid Press Printing, Forest Lake — owner

"For Monticello the BR&E really helped us connect better as a community. We were able to start breaking down the negative City versus business attitude. Participants have said the greatest benefit to our community has been the change in attitude toward the city and the numerous business to business connections made. There seems to be a more cohesive business and city atmosphere."
Megan Barnett-Livgard
Economic Development Director
City of Monticello

"I felt our BR&E process was a great way to bring people within the community (Lyon County) from all aspects of life and careers for the benefit of the entire area. BR&E was the single biggest effort we have ever done as far as an expanded survey that was done with a large percentage of businesses. The survey results have literally been used dozens of times since in various presentations. Our BR&E process has yielded processes or programs that we will do ongoing as a result that the community will benefit from forever."
Cal Brink
Executive Director
Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce

* A range of job estimates (attributable to BR&E) from Birch, Kraybill, and Little as compiled by Henry Cothran, University of Florida, in Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Programs: Why Existing Businesses Are Important, Original publication date August 2006. Revised January 2009. Reviewed January 2012.

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