The 2020 BREI Conference took place during the week of June 15, 2020 and featured a variety of presenters from across North America. Academics and practitioners presented on emerging BR+E practices and guided discussions centered around the role of BR+E as an economic recovery tool. Below are 8 key takeaways from the conference:
- Business attraction might have to take a back seat for the foreseeable future. Economic development will become more centered around BR+E as communities chart their paths to economic recovery.
- Communities might have to develop a triaging process to determine when and how to assist struggling companies. Given the importance of being effective and timely when addressing business issues, it can be important to ask; “which businesses can be saved?”
- Build awareness that a local business support ecosystem exists. Sometimes all that is needed to assist a business owner is to point them in the right direction by informing them of suitable support options (e.g., locally-focused workshops).
- It is important to have clear deliverables and a unified economic recovery task force. Additionally, always bring focus back to the desired outcomes and be willing to adjust economic recovery plans as needed.
- Be prepared to incorporate new BR+E partners. In addition to traditional stakeholders such as business support centers and local chambers of commerce, examples of new partners to consider include; local public health departments and mental health organizations or experts.
- Adapt the BR+E process accordingly. For instance, if business interviews are typically completed in-person, perhaps there is an opportunity to shift to phone calls with follow-up discussions via video call.
- Focus on business needs over data collection needs. Inasmuch as it is still vital to have a robust data set to guide the BR+E activities, it is equally important to keep survey fatigue in mind. Consider the option to use a minimal number of survey questions or be prepared to stray from a rigid Q&A format when interacting with business owners.
- Given the challenges facing business owners, be familiar with mental health resources and best practices prior to engaging them in discussion. Do not stigmatize and be prepared to have a conversation – sometimes it can be as straightforward as asking “Do you need any extra support through this?” and following up with a connection to a mental health counselor or other professional.
For more resources on mental health considerations for BR+E, visit the links below from University of Minnesota Extension:
- Reaching out to business in a sensitive time
- Practicing emotional intelligence during a community crisis experience
BREI is the leading professional association for business retention and expansion. In addition to training economic developers through a variety of workshops and conferences, the association seeks to increase collaboration among professionals by promoting interdisciplinary development and networking.
Click here to read our previous post on how BR+E can be used to guide economic recovery. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how to adapt your BR+E during a crisis.
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