By, Brenda Sherwood, Economic Development Coordinator
As the year draws to an end, it’s commonplace for many businesses (real estate agencies, banks, financial consultants, etc.) to throw their annual economic forecast events predicting the outcome of the year to come. Now if you’re feeling like me, I’ve had it up to my eyebrows with the negative! Yes, we’ve seen some of the worst turbulences in recession history and there are still many efforts that need to be made, but I’m certainly seeing a lot of economic indicators that are pointing towards an upturn in our economy.
Beginning this past month, The Mayor’s Economic Excellence Team has focused attention to our Business Retention and Expansion Program. Its objective is to help existing businesses become more competitive, encourage synergistic collaborations and to simply thank each company for being such a viable asset in the community. Our BR&E program has engaged a variety of state agencies, higher learning institutions and local economic development organizations to participate in the future growth of businesses in Meridian. Our formation of numerous strategic partnerships was designed to bring this commitment to a greater level.
Many assume that economic development means attracting new business or industry to the community. I have people on the street asking me all the time, ‘what companies are coming into town?’ In this economy, many businesses are still hesitant to just pick up and move or expand their company to another state. Actually, in good times and in bad, there is greater economic potential when helping one of your existing businesses or industries survive, grow and prosper. These businesses account for nearly 80% of all new jobs created. Retaining businesses that are already located here, and taking the time and energy to grow them, contributes more ‘bang for the buck’ than trying to lure new business into our area.
Now, I shifted into business retention to focus on the positive! A majority of the companies we’ve met with here in Meridian have been reporting gains and growth for the past several months. Time after time, we’re hearing companies tell us that they are finally starting to experience numbers similar to those before the recession. If there’s anything that has put me into the holiday spirit, it’s the enthusiasm and positive attitude by the many CEO’s, Presidents, managers and owners of the companies we’ve visited here in Meridian.
We have a long way to go and it will take some time for companies to reestablish their confidence again to begin hiring, but for many businesses, hope is just on the horizon.
The Mayor’s Economic Excellence Team is committed to retaining and expanding the existing businesses that sustain our community, so when an economic development professional contacts your business, please take the time to set up an appointment with us. We invite you to share with us what's holding you back from growing and making new jobs for our friends, partners and children. You'll be surprised what's out there to support growth, once you find the person(s) that can help you navigate the "system.”
To schedule a visit from our Economic Excellence Team, please contact me at 208.489.0537
May the year ahead bring peace, good health and much happiness to you and yours. Happy Holidays.