Growing from Within: The Value of Business Retention

Posted by on September 5, 2022

In August, I and several others from the Upper Peninsula economic development community attended the Michigan Economic Developers Association Annual Meeting. The theme, “creative solutions” offered a lot of opportunities to think about emerging trends and issues in economic development. And, as all good meetings or conferences should do, it provided an opportunity to reflect on the work we as the LSCP are currently doing and what might be on the horizon.

I’ve written extensively on some of the current topics impacting economic development, ranging from housing to childcare. And while the LSCP is taking a lead/support role in many of those conversations with our partner organizations, they can sometimes overshadow important work done behind the scenes to keep our core economic development engines running.

One such tool is business retention.

Business retention doesn’t make headlines like some of our other work, but it is vitally important to ensure our current businesses understand the resources available to them and that we understand their needs so we can advocate on their behalf. A typical business retention visit is often a casual conversation between an LSCP business development team member and a business owner. We talk about day-to-day operations, if they are finding the labor they need, what external factors may be impacting their businesses, and if they’re aware of new or existing local, state, or federal resources that could benefit their business. Sometimes they are fifteen-minute meetings, while other times we may spend more than an hour with the business. But no matter how long we spend, we leave with a better understanding of their needs and they have a better understanding of the support the Marquette County community can provide.

These visits can, and often do, lead to more conversations or even expansion of the business once they are connected with additional resources. Or they end up connected with additional LSCP resources including succession planning, marketing support, networking opportunities, or help with employee attraction.

We do what we do because strong communities need strong businesses (and vice versa). It is so important to build strong businesses that most members of the LSCP team participate in our business retention work. As of the end of July, we’ve completed 372 visits in Marquette County which represent 8,350 jobs impacted and almost $9 million in investment in the community. We’re far from done for the year though. If you’re a business owner and haven’t met with a member of our staff yet, you may be seeing us soon. We support similar business retention work in Baraga and Dickinson Counties too through an innovative shared services model that makes us all stronger.

Because this work happens behind the scenes, we count on the generosity of our partner network to fund this work. If you’re not already an LSCP partner, consider joining. You can find those details here. If you are already in our network of nearly 300 businesses, organizations, and local governments, thank you for investing in Marquette County’s future.

As always, if there’s anything we can do to support you, please reach out.

By Christopher Germain, CEO of the LSCP writes a bi-weekly column for the Mining Journal.