Economic Gardening® represents a new way of thinking about supporting “growth” companies and letting business owners know how important they are to our local economies. So instead of offering traditional SBDC consulting services, we’re offering something that might be even more valuable to our local business community: information – strategic information – gathered with guidance from the business owners and managers and specifically for the business. This is a Voyage Forward effort supported by our economic response resources under the direction of the Business Development and Retention Team and KEDA.
Patterned after a successful pilot program conducted for Northeast Mn last year and based on a national model that has proven to be a very successful approach to help accelerate second stage growth businesses in both urban and rural areas, the KEDA office is partnering with the National Center for Economic Gardening and we have set up a countywide network to provide virtual access to teams of highly skilled research specialists that will be matched with a select group of qualifying companies. Using private conference calls and a secure online workspace, this team will interview the company to help identify specific issues. The team then devotes about 36 hours to each company in the course of a few weeks as they work quickly to deliver action-oriented information.
We emphasize the phrase “select group of qualifying companies” because this program is available only to companies that meet certain criteria – and is offered to them at no cost. Businesses that are growing make a positive impact on our local economy. We want to help businesses make an even bigger impact. Economic Gardening services are specifically designed to help growing companies make better decisions while navigating the challenges associated with growth. We are seeking those companies interested and committed to growth with direct, confidential support and assistance by a skilled team.
Companies interested in participating in the Program must meet certain minimum qualifications of “second-stage” companies. Specifically, in order to be considered for selection as a participant in the Program, an enterprise must meet the following criteria at the time of selection:
- Be a for-profit, privately held company headquartered and operating in Koochiching County in Minnesota.
- Have between $750,000 and $50 million in annual revenue.
- Employ 6 to 99 full-time equivalent W-2 employees, including the owner.
- Potential growth in revenue next three years must exceed $1 million.
- Demonstrated growth in either revenue or employees in 2 of the last 5 years.
Provide product(s) and/or services beyond current service area to regional and/or international markets.
Requirements for Entry
Companies can be considered for the program by submitting an application form. All applicants must submit an application form, which can be found at the Web site koochiching.nationalcentereg.org.
Participants will be selected by a panel comprised of representatives of the Program, Associates and others as deemed appropriate by the program administrators. Selection into the program will be based on the following criteria: growth in number of employees, impact of the business in the job market, increase in gross revenues, classification in targeted industries, innovativeness of the product or service, and other criteria deemed appropriate.
Use of Information
All information provided by the nominee in the application form shall remain confidential, except as follows:
- The information will be privately reviewed by the program administrators and partner affiliates to select the program participants.
- Some of the information on the application form may be used in aggregate for research, educational or other purposes.
- If the company is selected as program participant, the program administrators may use the company name and contact information.
The application will ask about strategic issues, which means addressing challenges and identifying opportunities for your company. A research team will provide analysis and information on five key areas: your core strategy, market dynamics, qualified sales leads, innovation and temperament. They will use commercial databases to find new markets, GIS specialists will use computerized data mapping to spot densities of current customers and competitors, identify potential new clients and geographic markets, and produce qualified sales leads. They will analyze your website, looking for any problem areas that might be deterring traffic. Then the researchers identify key works and content to raise your visibility in search-engine rankings. They also track social interactions on other websites, blogs and online communities to see who is talking about your products and services, determine key influencers in your market and help you connect better with costumers. In addition they have developed listening posts to scan news and blog sites and provide high-quality information on topics you select.
They DO NOT do any primary research, financial analysis or business plans.
Businesses will spend 8-12 hours collaborating with the research team during this process. A strong commitment by the business is vital to its success.
To get more information about the program, please contact me.
Voyage Forward Co-Chair, Business Development and Retention Team
Koochiching Economic Development Authority
405 3rd Street
International Falls, MN 56649