Business Retention and
What is Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E)?
Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) is a community-based
economic development program with a focus on supporting existing
businesses. It provides a systematic approach to assist communities
in developing strategies to support businesses, retain and create
new jobs and opportunities. BR+E uses an in-depth, four stage process
to assist communities in developing and implementing concrete action
Why is it important?
Undertaking a BR+E helps communities understand
local business needs and respond so that businesses stay,
grow, and become more competitive in the community.
It is important to recognize that few communities
can do everything they would like to in order to support existing
businesses. The BR+E program helps communities to identify their
The BR+E program involves trained volunteers visiting
businesses to conduct confidential interviews with senior level
management, owners or managers. Data analysis and action planning
is then undertaken to address issues and opportunities.
Specific BR+E project goals may vary from community
to community, and could include:
- Build and improve relations with existing businesses
- Build capacity within the community and strengthen relationships
- Identify the positive and challenging attributes of the community
as a place to do business
- Identify and address immediate concerns and issues of individual
businesses through an assessment and referral process
- Collect business and market data to support economic development
- Establish and implement a strategic action plan to support existing
- Increase the competitiveness of existing businesses
- Enable business development, investment and job creation
- Foster and enhance the environment for business development
What is the Business Retention and Expansion Process?
The Ontario BR+E program is based on a four stage,
12 step process:
Step 1 Assess Community Readiness
Step 2 Form the Leadership Team
Step 3 Project Design
Step 4 Volunteer Recruitment and Training
- Collect and Analyze
Step 5 - Conduct Business Interviews
Step 6 Address Immediate Concerns and Opportunities
Step 7 Data Analysis
- Develop Goals and Action Plans
Step 8 - Host BR+E Task Force Retreat
Step 9 - Prepare Final Report and Action Plan
Step 10 - Communicate Results
- Implement and Monitor
Step 11 Implement Action Plans
Step 12 - Monitor and Track Progress
There are a variety of tools and resources that have been developed
to assist communities conducting a BR+E project.
a) BR+E Training
Training is available for BR+E Coordinators to ensure they have
a solid understanding of the BR+E process to effectively coordinate
and implement projects.
The training is divided into two parts:
- Part 1 - Planning and Conducting a BR+E Project
This 1.5 day training focuses on preparation and effectively conducting
the business interviews.
- Part 2 Analyzing and Reporting on a BR+E Project
One day session covers how to analyze and report on BR+E projects.
c) Base and Sector Surveys
- A comprehensive business retention (base) survey and optional
business sector surveys (Agriculture, Manufacturing, Mining, Natural
Resources, Downtown/Retail, Tourism and Local Food)
d) Online Data Management System
- Access to the online Executive Pulse data management system.
Executive Pulse is the most widely used database system for managing
business retention and expansion projects in North America. It
is a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use system that allows for easy
data entry, some customized community questions, and extensive
- One hour webinars are available to provide a demonstration of
how the Executive Pulse system supports a BR+E project. Contact
for more information.
e) Provincial Roll-Up Reports
f) Examples of Final BR+E Reports
g) Other Resources
- Includes sample volunteer job descriptions, press releases,
letters and meeting formats that can be easily customized.
Staff Advisors who can provide coaching and advice throughout
How do I get it?
If you would like to receive a copy of the BR+E Coordinators
Manual or are interested in training, complete a request