Business Retention and Expansion Process

Effective Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) is an ongoing process. Long-term success often depends on the capacity to build strong relationships and networks in your business community. By working to find solutions to challenges and to support opportunities, you can create positive connections with local businesses.

It is also important to design a BRE process to suit the needs of your local business community and economy. A BRE project committee can help you design a process that fits.

Your project committee helps you by identifying issues and barriers to your BRE plan. After you collect information from business owners in the community, the committee helps develop and implement a BRE action plan. The plan should focus on creating a healthy a business climate in your community.

The following steps help guide your community’s BRE program planning:


1. Introduce BRE to your community


2. Form a BRE committee

  • Choose members who will represent the diversity of your community and who are willing to commit to the long-term
  • Include local business associations and representatives

3. Design the BRE process

  • Who, what, where, when, how
  • Include those businesses already showing signs of stress
  • Conduct interviews within a defined period of time, so that the data can be compiled and analysed, and an action plan developed

4. Inform the community of the survey

  • Develop media relations
  • Announce the survey publicly to give the campaign credibility and make it easier for volunteers to book appointments with local business owners
  • Ensure local business organizations are part of the process, invite their knowledge, expertise and feedback
  • Ask local business organizations to share their support for the process with their members
  • A simple checklist may not provide the depth of responses needed, so an open-ended survey is recommended
  • Ensure you ask the questions that are right for your community’s unique circumstances
  • Access our BRE Scalable Survey (PDF, 113 KB) tool and modify as needed
  • Depending on your budget you may want to use a professionally developed survey and data analysis service

6. Recruit and train volunteers to conduct the survey

  • Have volunteers work in pairs:  one to ask the questions and one to record the answers

7. Conduct the survey

  • Determine the area, type and number of businesses to be surveyed
  • Assure business owners of the confidentially of individual responses
  • The data is compiled from all the surveys conducted and used only in aggregate form

8. Compile and analyze data

  • If you are using a professional service, this work will be done for you, and you will receive the aggregate data
  • If not using a professional service, you may want to consider hiring a qualified consultant to provide that service for you 

9. Determine recommendations

  • Using aggregate data from the survey to develop recommendations
  • Categorize recommendations according to jurisdictional responsibility:
    • Provincial legislation
    • Regulation or policy
    • Regional or municipal policy or action
    • Business practice (i.e. mentorship)
    • Community building

10. Develop and implement action plan 

  • Identify and prioritize those actions within the capacity of the community, and those that are short, medium and long-term actions
  • Here are some examples of actions that you can take on behalf of your business community:
    • Streamline the process to obtain building permits
    • Identify and introduce local suppliers and those who may be able to support expanded or diversified operations
    • Provide direction to provincial and federal officials who may be able to assist with export promotion
    • Help a business owner to develop a business case for investing in expansion or diversification that can be presented to the parent company or senior investors
    • Help develop business networks for local and regional companies to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of the business community
    • Serve as a liaison to discuss municipal, provincial and federal government policies that impact the business community
    • Ensure the action plan is implemented
    • Report out on actions to council, stakeholders, business community etc 
    • Celebrate your successes 


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