Economic Gardening is an economic development program focused on helping Second Stage companies grow. Traditional economic development focuses on recruiting companies to come to town (economic hunting). This program focuses on growing local companies (economic gardening).
What is a Second Stage Company and Why Focus on Them?
Second Stage companies, sometimes called emerging growth companies, are defined as having $1 -50 million in sales and 10-99 employees. They have proof of product, proof of market and proof of management skills. They typically have the potential for additional sustained growth but do not have access to the sophisticated tools and concepts of larger companies.
There is substantial research that indicates many of the new jobs come from this small band of companies (3-10% of all companies in most communities). Accelerating the growth potential of this highly productive group is a very efficient and effective economic development approach.
How long will it take?
Engagements generally run about three-four weeks from initial interview to final survey. Obviously, the demands of business and personal lives may alter this, but we try to work at the speed of business (results in hours and days, not weeks and months). A typical CEO participating in the program will dedicate 8-12 hours to the process.
How does it work?
InBN will connect you to the National Center for Economic Gardening and the National Strategic Research Team (NSRT). From there, you will basically have high-powered staff on loan to you for a few weeks. Their question will be “what decisions are you getting ready to make, boss?” and “what information do you need to make those decisions?”
They are not industry consultants that will give you the top five recommendations for growing your company. They are, instead, excellent researchers that can provide you with information, data, and conclusions about key issues with which you are dealing.
Using the best corporate level tools, these industry consultants will give you access to sophisticated technical assistance that you may not have been able to afford in your early growth stages. Some of these tools include commercial database searching, deep web, GIS, SEO, and more.
You will get the most from the engagement if you provide them your full attention and availability for a short duration. It is not unusual for the CEO to pull in the senior management team (e.g. VP of Marketing) but it is vital that the CEO be involved from beginning to end.
What Kind of Results Are You Getting?
The program is running or has run successfully in 34 states, regions, and cities. While Buffalo Niagara’s program is just getting underway, results throughout the country have been significant. Just down the road in Rochester, NY, 123 companies went through the program between 2013-2017 and collectively created 924 new jobs (averaging 7.5 jobs per company) and increased their revenues by $170 million (an average increase of 32 percent per company) in the years following their participation.