Business Retention & Expansion Course Back »

SDSU Extension adds another tool to their tool box of programs they can offer. Paul Thares (SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist) is now a certified Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) Coordinator. Thares completed an 8-week BR&E course taught by University of Minnesota Extension.

Course Overview

The certification is through Business Retention and Expansion International (BREI) and the University of Minnesota. The course that Thares took included:

  • Answering the question is BR&E Right for our community.
  • The three steps of BR&E.
  • How to put together a BR&E leadership team.
  • How to Train BR&E volunteers.
  • A practice BR&E Business Visit.
  • How to use BR&E as an economic development strategy to target specific industries, i.e., Tourism or Agriculture.

Community Case Studies

Throughout the course there was required reading that included case studies. The case studies assisted in getting a better understanding of how BR&E can be used to help with:

  • Workforce development decision making.
  • Making regional transportation decisions to assist manufacturers.
  • Coordination of entrepreneurial growth.
  • Succession planning for rural businesses.

SDSU Extension BR&E Program

SDSU Extension can provide what is called situational leadership program design. The community vitality team will analyze the situation that the community is in and tailored the program to meet your specific economic development needs.

Target Audience

  • County Commissions
  • City Councils
  • Economic Development Groups
  • Rural Communities

Key Components

  • The Three Steps of Business Retention & Expansion (Figure 1).
  • Business visits and surveys are a vital part of the BR&E Program.
    • A major part of the business visit is a survey asking questions geared to gather specific information and data about the business.
    • The survey also helps to identify issues that may be addressed sooner than later, some may call these “red flag” issues

Diagram: The Three Steps of Business Retention & Expansion.
Figure 1. The Three Steps of Business Retention & Expansion.


  • Private: The private value of a BR&E program is that county commissions, city councils, economic development organizations and rural communities that participate will become better citizens, leaders and help make economic development within their given environment stronger.
  • Public: The public value resulting from this program is that the commissions, councils, economic development organizations and rural communities that participate will help businesses within their communities become more sustainable.

Educational Goals

  • Participants gain knowledge in how to organize and run a BR&E program.
  • Participants begin to incorporate this newly learned knowledge into a successful BR&E program.
  • Participants have fully embraced the BR&E program and passed this knowledge on to new business owners and community members.
  • Participants incorporate what they have learned and apply it in their lives and communities.

Getting Started

Request this program from a community vitality field specialist near you:


  • Bennett, J., Darger, M., & Tuck, B. (2017). Lessons learned from a generation of community-driven business retention and expansion programming. Journal of the Community Development Society, 48, 207-224.
  • Darger, M. & Hill, J. (2014). Using Focus Groups for Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) at the Community Level: Detailed Notes about the Columbus, Minnesota BR&E Program. Pp3.
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