Time to Hit the Road: Business Retention and Expansion Heads South

What do Macedonia and the Ukraine have in common and how are these countries similar to Indiana, New York, South Dakota and Florida? For good measure, let’s add Guam too (the tiny U.S. island territory in Micronesia in the Western Pacific).

Still not sure?

Answer: Ohio State University Extension Community Development professionals have delivered, shared and taught Ohio’s Business Retention and Expansion program curriculum in all of them!

As recently as two weeks ago, Extension CD professionals David Civittolo and Joe Lucente visited with colleagues at the University of Florida to deliver a three-day train the trainer program. Twelve University of Florida Extension agents learned the nuts and bolts of the traditional BR&E program and were also introduced to a newly-revised curriculum module: BR&E for Agri-business.

Since the 12 attendees were mostly Agriculture agents, the curriculum enabled them to better understand how to conduct a BR&E program focusing exclusively on agri-business clusters.

A highlight of the program was that the agents conducted actual business visits using an agribusiness questionnaire that they helped create. After the business interviews, the agents presented the information that would be most useful to the local stakeholders and the business community they surveyed.

For example, one business indicated during an interview that they needed assistance purchasing more locally grown vegetables for their high-end restaurant. As a result of the interview, Florida Extension agents were able to put the owner in touch with a local greenhouse that is in a position to provide more locally grown vegetables.

Since 1986, OSU Extension has partnered with local officials and residents in 155 communities located in 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties to better inform community decisions and help existing businesses grow and expand. To learn more about the program, the BR&E materials and how we can help your community contact David Civittolo or go.osu.edu/BRnE.

David Civittolo is an Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics. He co-leads OSU Extension’s Community Economics Team.

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