Are you serving the second-stage companies in your community? As growth entrepreneurs with appetites and aptitudes for expansion, they are significant job creators. And because they typically have national or global markets, they can bring outside dollars into your community.
And yet they have special needs that arenâ€™t being met. If you want to significantly increase your impact on communities, you need to help them help you. Find out how our programs will get you there.
Economic gardening has powerful and far-reaching payoffs.
By helping companies identify and pursue new opportunities, economic gardening increases demand for their products and services — which, in turn, stimulates job creation. In fact, research conducted by Tucker Hall shows companies that participated in Florida’s economic gardening pilot program each created an average of 5.2 new jobs within the first 18 months of the program.
“Local businesses tend to have greater commitment to their regions than companies with out-of-state headquarters — and the most impact on sustainable job creation,” points out Mark Lange, the foundation’s executive director. “If they grow, the whole community benefits.”
There are also some surprising benefits for economic development organizations (EDOs) and entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs):
- Greater trust. By referring local companies into an economic gardening program, EDOs and ESOs build trust because they’re introducing CEOs to a service they can’t get anywhere else.
- Increased effectiveness. EDOs and ESOs that participate in an economic gardening network learn more about each other, which enables groups to avoid duplication of services, refine core strengths and refer clients to other groups when appropriate.
- Identifying new clients or working with them at an earlier stage. EDOs and ESOs often work with either startups or very large companies and act as conveners by connecting them with regulatory entities, government programs and international trade initiatives. Economic gardening enables support organizations to get involved with existing businesses earlier — and be active participants in their growth.
Bottom line, economic gardening helps establish an entrepreneurial culture within communities that is critical to regional growth!
Data can have incredible impact, especially for economic-development professionals. It can uncover trends you weren’t aware of, explain what’s happening in your region and measure the success of growth strategies.
YourEconomy.org (YE) enables you to see business activity at the national and state level, but most important, to view data about your own turf and get fast answers to questions like:
- How does my local economy compare to the entire state or communities in other regions with similar demographics?
- What kinds of companies are growing the fastest?
- What percentage of jobs are generated by resident establishments? (This is important because, as YE shows, jobs generated by resident companies are less vulnerable during economic downturns.)
Instead of relying on anecdotal evidence, YE provides the hard facts you need to:
- Target programs and initiatives more effectively.
- Track the success of programs and communicate their impact to stakeholders and policymakers.
- Connect workforce-development programs with economic-growth initiatives.
- Improve regional planning.
- Get a handle on not only what kinds of growth trends are happening and where they’re happening, but also why they’re happening.
Bottom line, YE lets you take a data-driven approach to economic-development efforts. Otherwise, you’re operating on opinion. For more information about YE and how other economic-growth professionals are using it, download this PDF.
Granted, there are plenty of leadership programs out there. So what makes our ESO and entrepreneur leader retreats exceptional?
- We speak your language. As an ESO that supports other ESOs, we work with organizations like yours every day and truly understand the challenges you face. What’s more, second-stage entrepreneurs — a group that has been largely underappreciated and underserved by most regions — are our core competency.
- Retreats are led by professional facilitators, who are experts in peer learning and unleashing the group genius in the room. This ensures for a balanced discussion among participants, maximizing their takeaways and value gained for time spent in sessions.
- Relevant content. This isn’t just theoretical or nice-to-know information. Each program delivers new concepts and tools that participants can begin to apply immediately. Curriculum is structured as a continuum so each retreat builds upon the participant’s previous experience. For example, new modules have been added to address organizational change and conflict, enabling leaders to better manage “growing pains” so their organizations become more resilient and innovative.
- An inspirational environment. Big Rock Valley, our learning campus in southwest Michigan, is comprised of 2,600 acres of forest, prairie and wetland. Many activities are held outdoors, and the Tower of Tomorrow, the foundation’s primary retreat facility, provides dramatic views of surrounding woodlands so attendees remain in touch with nature even when they’re indoors. Our overnight guest quarters are equally unique. Retreat participants stay in renovated railroad boxcars and farmhouses that date back to the 19th century.
Companies to Watch
Are you looking for a program to recognize the driving force behind your state’s economy and to accomplish it in a collaborative way? CTW delivers the most important growth segment in your state — the second-stage companies that are often flying under the radar of recognition. For example, in 2008, only 7.7 percent of the establishments in the nation were second-stage — yet they account for nearly 35 percent of the jobs (source: YourEconomy.org).
See how CTW has benefited the states, organizations and companies where it has operated:
- CTW is not your usual recognition program — it is a force to bring every element of the business landscape together. In Colorado, 16 entities from the public and private sectors work together to deliver this highly dynamic program.
- CTW transforms the reputations of ESOs from doing good work to helping companies that make a difference. Says Michigan SBTDC state director Carol Lopucki, “Now we’re a player that provides statewide visibility for companies on the cutting-edge,” adding that these companies are quick to say, “The SBTDC nominated us because they’ve watched us grow.”
- CTW has changed the conversation from “too big to fail” corporations to “too hot to ignore” second-stage companies. According to Chris Gibbons, who served as director of business and industry affairs for Littleton, Colo., for more than 25 years, “During the most severe economic event in 50 years, CTW honorees have continued to innovate and create wealth — and most of them have kept adding jobs, which is astounding.”
- In 2008 at the height of the recession, Michigan CTW winners were notable for 36% growth job creation. More than 1,200 jobs were created by these companies, giving an economically challenged state a cause for hope instead of despair.
- To winners, CTW bestows instant credibility: “One bank specifically mentioned the award when they contacted us. Having people knock on your door instead of having to knock on theirs is impressive, especially in a down economy,” says Todd Anthony, CEO of NTsupply.com in Indianapolis, a 2009 Indiana Companies to Watch winner
- In the eight states where CTW has run since 2005, 1,190 companies have been identified. Those second-stage companies produced $8.8 billion in annual revenue and employed more than 41,000. Collectively, they projected growth to $12 billion for the following year. These companies are the role models of our new economy.
We know there are options when it comes to CEO roundtables, but we are confident that when it comes to providing value for time, leaders of second-stage businesses will fully embrace the PeerSpectives Roundtable System (PRS).
Anyone leading a business knows that each day presents unique challenges–particularly to the stage of growth the company is in. As business owners participate in PeerSpectives roundtables, they will find tremendous value in learning from the experiences of their peers. When they walk away from a session, they do so with a sense of clarity and ownership, knowing they made the best decision on how to deal with their issues.
We know the system works because we’ve seen the results first-hand in tables running across the country. Its power to initiate discussions and end with solid solutions continues to amaze us as we watch one person after another find “aha” moments using this process.
PeerSpectives roundtables are currently running across the United States. Find one near you.
Assets2Action is important to your organization and your region because:
- As the convening ESO, your organization is positioned in a regional leadership role.
- The process is different – lively, interactive, and ensures each participant has a voice.
- You and other ESOs, who are often operating in a highly competitive market, come together around a common goal that is driven towards action.
- By immediately identifying collaborative projects, your group takes the first steps towards substantive action early in the process. These tangible actions are key to preventing the activity from becoming yet another discussion forum with no visible outcomes.
- Your group, not the facilitator or outside organization, owns the outcome.
- The process ferrets out gaps and duplicity in services, enabling your organization and other ESOs to develop specific niches leading to a healthier competitive and collaborative environment.
- Entrepreneurs have a voice, allowing you to see the region through the eyes of your audience.
- By listening to the entrepreneur’s perspective, you will begin to understand how easy or difficult it is for them to access business services.
- YourEconomy.org data analysis helps complete the region’s business picture by assessing business growth, as well as the balance of external and internal market companies.
- Accountability is required, ensuring your group takes action leading to sustainable change.
The process can be an essential best practice on its own or when combined with an existing or ongoing regional study.
"We cannot accomplish all that we need to do without working together."
— Bill Richardson