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Extension > Community > Business Retention & Expansion > BR&E Course > Online

BR&E Online Course

Online course cost and schedule

The BR&E online course is an eight-week class. Two sections are scheduled in 2017. The cost of the course is $500. There are also community team pricing options.

What You Should Expect

The course takes 2–3 hours per week over an 8-week period. It's an asynchronous course so you can work at times convenient for your schedule but you need to stay involved on a weekly basis.

There are a few videos or readings, activities, and discussion forums each week. Two highlights are a practice visit to a real business and a live panel discussion with experts with BR&E tips and stories. The course "capstone" project is planning your community BR&E initiative via a written paper, video, or voice recording.

BRE Course sample page

Sample page from our online BRE course

Content of the Course

The following table lists course content as of December 1, 2016. This schedule is subject to change before the course begins, but general topics will remain the same.

Materials included in the course:

Week 1

  • Introducing the course technology, materials, instructors, and participants
  • Economic development and BR&E
  • The community development model for BR&E

Week 2

  • Setting goals:
    • How many businesses & volunteers?
    • Timeline?
    • Considerations for volunteer or professional visitation
  • Build on existing group or create a new team?
  • Local vs. regional – scaling your BR&E efforts

Week 3

  • Planning the work
  • Communications – internal, external
  • Selecting businesses – mixed sector or sector specific?

Week 4

  • Building partnerships for BR&E
  • People
    • The core team roles
    • Task force and volunteer visitors
    • Volunteers – recruiting, training, retaining, and recognizing

Week 5

  • BR&E technical issues
  • Interview guides & surveys
    • Branding your BR&E
    • Urban, suburban, and rural considerations
    • Focus groups, mixed methods research

Week 6

  • Conducting quality visits for both relationship building and collecting data
    • How to train volunteers
    • Doing your own practice BR&E visit with a real business
  • Responding to individual business issues (aka "warning flags")

Week 7

  • Finding the big picture — data tabulation & analysis
  • BR&E reports
  • Determining priority projects and moving into action
    • Research Review
    • Action Planning Retreat
    • Commencement Meeting

Week 8

  • Building credibility; avoiding pitfalls
  • Creating the right BR&E for your situation
  • Sustaining BR&E momentum
  • Using Ripple Effect Mapping to evaluate BR&E results

Community Team Discount

Community-led BR&E is all about teamwork, so it makes sense to send a team to this training if possible. To encourage this, we offer discounts for team attendance.

A community team of two can register together for $750, and a community team of three to five individuals can register together for $1,000. (The discount is only for groups from a town or city, county, school district, or other groups of contiguous communities.) This discount is available for either the online or the in-person version of the course.

Certification Available from Business Retention and Expansion International (BREI)

BREI is the international association that promotes and educates about BR&E. For a certification and membership fee it will provide certification to persons successfully completing a University of Minnesota BR&E course.

Questions and Registration

Note that the password requirement is fairly stringent. We suggest keeping your U.M. password written in a secure location for future reference.

Register for Course

Deadline September 15, 2017

For more information, contact Michael Darger at or 612-625-6246.

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