Essential to Communities

Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) is an economic development strategy of proactively connecting with existing businesses to understand and respond to local business needs. The Steuben County Economic Development Corporation has made this the most important aspect of its everyday activity of programs and services.

BR&E is essential to communities because research has shown that existing businesses represent 70%–80% of new investment and job creation in a community. A strong BRE program returns investment to the community. These programs are less costly than recruitment programs, local decision-makers are partners in economic growth, and a strong BR&E program supports business recruitment through peer-to-peer marketing.

Most BR&E programs focus on industry, large employers, and manufacturers in general. Steuben County has a solid industrial base; however, the BRE program is focused more on propelling smaller growth companies. The guidelines established in this program are meant to cover a range of industry sectors and business sizes. 

The BR&E program designed for Steuben County contains several elements, including visiting local companies regularly, eliminating barriers to growth, bringing outside resources to local companies, and developing an early warning system for at-risk companies.

hard hats balancing on golden shovels

Why is BR&E Important?

Our existing businesses and local workforce are key indicators of a community’s economic health (as a place to live, work and play). Consistent research shows that small businesses are the significant drivers of job growth. In Indiana, 85 percent of businesses employ less than 100 people.

They are the often-overlooked growth machine of the state—and the ones most likely to add new jobs to their portfolio. Our BR&E is intended to help focus the energies of community stakeholders on the economic assets that already exist in our local communities, our county, and our region.