By Jami Gibson

Your community’s economic health is largely determined by its job creation. Economic development organizations focus on attracting new business to their area in order to create jobs and broaden the economic base. They also work with existing businesses in order to retain the jobs already within the community.

This month, I’ve been working on the retention side of economic development. Though this may not be the where the excitement is found (who doesn’t love to see a headline of a new company coming to town?), it is definitely where the jobs are found. Existing businesses create approximately 80% of the new jobs within a community. This is why BRE is so important to growing a prosperous community.

Not only should retention efforts center on growing companies that are successful in your area, but it’s also imperative to identify companies at risk of downsizing operations. When chambers of commerce and economic development organizations can step in and offer services to help struggling companies, they can thwart layoffs and facility closings, therefore, preventing the loss of jobs, and ultimately, the loss of talent.

Just as you would like to attract outside companies to relocate to your town, other communities want your companies to locate in their towns. How do you protect your workforce and ensure your community’s prosperity? One word: education. Companies need talent to fill new jobs. If they are not getting that where they are located, they will move to where the talent is. Therefore, it’s vital to invest in education from an early age, so our future workers will have the necessary skills to meet the demand for talent, and so our towns will flourish with opportunity.