Drive Local Growth with Business Retention and Expansion

Foster economic prosperity and create a vibrant, sustainable local economy.


Job Growth From Within

A business retention and expansion (BRE) program nurtures and supports existing businesses in a community. Since the majority of a region’s job growth comes from within, BRE is a must for any economic development organization (EDO). By building relationships through business visits, BRE efforts seek to understand the needs, challenges, and growth opportunities of businesses so that support, solutions, and assistance can be provided.

Business Retention

The goal of business retention is to ensure that when local businesses are faced with hurdles they don’t seek alternative markets for their operations. This is achieved by providing various support services such as access to financing, workforce development programs, training and education resources, and assistance navigating government regulations or permits.

Business Expansion

The goal of business expansion is to ensure local businesses are able to grow—and do so in the local market. Expanding firms create a dynamic and thriving local economy, improve the quality of life, and position the community for further investment. This is achieved by providing guidance on site selection, available incentives, infrastructure development, and other resources. 

What's your BRE status?

  • Do we have specific goals and objectives for our BRE program? And how will we measure them?

  • Do we have the necessary data and information about local businesses, and what additional data do we need to collect to inform our program?

  • Do we have a quality method for identifying and prioritizing the businesses we engage with?

  • Does our program have workforce development solutions to ensure businesses have access to a skilled and qualified workforce?

  • Does our program complement and align with broader economic development strategies and initiatives?

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Business Retention & Expansion Success

A successful business retention and expansion program retains existing businesses, creates a supportive environment for growth, attracts new investment, and ultimately fosters economic development within the region.

Five suggestions when building a business retention and expansion plan:

CheckmarkAssess and understand the local business landscape—generally, what are the needs, challenges, and opportunities? This can be done through data collection, surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
CheckmarkAlign your program with existing target industries and initiatives—BRE should support the overall strategy and economic development efforts in a region.
CheckmarkTake a data-driven approach to business visits—business growth data and job postings can help determine which firms are in expansion mode or struggling.
CheckmarkRelationship building is key—by fostering trust and open communication, you will be one of the first calls a business makes when they have a problem.
CheckmarkAnd in the end, it’s about solving those problems—whether providing industry expertise, guidance on available incentives, or a host of other assistance, the endgame is always problem resolution.

To build a successful BRE program, you need comprehensive labor market data for your community to:

CheckmarkUnderstand employer needs—who’s hiring, emerging skill demand, and wage trends.
CheckmarkKnow your workforce supply—where your workforce went to college, the companies they work for, and the skills they have.
CheckmarkPlan for change—understand the economic and social makeup of your community, where the gaps are, and what’s needed to achieve your goals.
CheckmarkConfidently benchmark—core labor market data provides a full, historical view of your region for trend analysis, modeling, and benchmarking.
CheckmarkGet on the same page—view your community’s economic health and engage stakeholders in data-driven decision-making with downloadable reports.
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Lightcast has the smartest database of companies on the market.

Want help prioritizing companies for business visits? We use AI to predict growing businesses—including those in your region.

Workforce Solutions


The Gazelle platform uses cutting-edge AI to rank over 10 million companies based on their likelihood to grow. Create a targeted list in your region of companies to target for business visits and assistance.

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Job-Readiness Room

Activate under-the-radar populations and tap into a new pool of talent. JRR supplements existing workforce programs with a new entry point and preparation tool that helps individuals acquire skills and demonstrate they are job-ready.

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Career Coach

Give jobseekers the labor market information they need to make smarter career decisions. With Career Coach, they can develop their resumes, discover training and education programs, and find great jobs at local businesses.

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Regions are different, so are the BRE strategies needed.

Sector Strategies

Sector strategies assess talent gaps, causes, and potential solutions. This granular detail of local industries and the talent that drives them informs actionable strategy development. Sector strategies focus on what already exists in a community and find the best paths to job growth and capital investment.

Talent Strategies

A deep understanding of the workers in a local labor market helps ensure a thriving economy and vibrant talent pipeline. Sector strategies take what's known about those workers and focuses on developing them and attracting new talent while aligning with current workforce development and education programs.

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Skills Strategies

Skills strategies use the language of the labor market to remove obstacles and open pathways to connect workers with local businesses. This begins with identifying in-demand career areas and ends with outlining detailed career pathways through upskilling and reskilling initiatives.  

Looking to take your business retention and expansion program to the next level?

Lightcast data helps you become a trusted partner and resource for local businesses.