Adapting your Business Retention + Expansion Practices During a Crisis


Just as the activities of business and government are shifting to meet the demands of the current context, the BR+E process should also adapt to meet today’s economic development needs. To tackle the implications of this outbreak, communities and organizations will benefit from having access to and sharing timely, reliable, and meaningful data. This data can allow stakeholders and the business community to share critical information that can help address individual, regional and sector-based issues.

This post will review four keys ways in which your BR+E practices could pivot to address today’s economy.

  1. Create More Seats at the Table

How to maintain a safe and healthy environment for employees and customers will likely be key factor to consider for the foreseeable future. One of the first things you might consider is adding health and wellness stakeholders to your BR+E team.  These could include:

  • your local health unit,
  • local hospitals,
  • research facilities, or
  • emergency operations

Key stakeholders in the health sector can:

  • stakeholdersprovide insight into how businesses can return to and remain operational by providing a safe and healthy environment.
  • identify sector-based opportunities where regional businesses might be able to provide or develop solutions.
  • be involved in new partnership opportunities. For example, your local health unit may be able to put together a workshop on Personal Protective Equipment usage by sector.
  1. Expedite the BR+E Process

Some business owners may be experiencing economic shock, which can be overwhelming – greatly affecting their confidence and ability to keep their businesses viable. It is important to listen, understand, and respond to the impacts your business community is facing as soon as possible. To facilitate this, you can use a web-based survey followed with 1-on-1 conversations over the phone or via videoconference (e.g., Zoom).

photo-of-person-using-tablet-3740161The OMAFRA Recovery BR+E Survey focuses on critical questions to help you gain insight on the state of a community’s business climate and aid future planning. The data provided by this short, initial survey can ease efforts to gauge economic conditions, as well as, provide businesses with an opportunity to request additional help. This should enable an organization to identify some key actions to help provide businesses with assistance right away.  The survey may not provide the depth of information required for a strategic plan, but it will be concise enough to encourage a higher response rate and identify some quick wins.

  1. Allow your BR+E to be Non-Linear

Your recovery BR+E process may become non-linear in nature as you work toward the best path forward. This means that you might have to revisit or redo certain aspects, such as business outreach and data analysis.

You should be continuously assessing and updating elements of your BR&E program, such your  project plan or strategy, as well as, survey questions in order to align with changing conditions. Questions should be altered to measure the impact of any actions undertaken, in addition, to being adapted to new information on opportunities and challenges as they arise.

BR+E process map

Adapting the BR+E process

  1. Practice Emotional Intelligence

As defined by the Canadian Mental Health Association, emotional intelligence is the act of understanding and managing your own emotions and the emotions of those around you to alleviate stress and communicate effectively. While you are working to collect critical data to inform your response, you will likely be talking to businesses who are facing high stress levels and closure.  Be empathetic when speaking with business owners under stress. As you work your way through the BR+E exercise, ensure that you sympathize with their needs and concerns, letting them fully express themselves while staying focused on the questions.

This post is part two of our series on how BR+E can support resiliency and recovery in communities. Read Part 1 here: Part 1: Road to Economic Recovery Using BR+E for Rural Communities. Stay tuned for our introduction to the new Recovery BR+E Survey in an upcoming post, in which we will discuss:

  • how to start your BR+E
  • what types of questions you should ask
  • what format your BR+E should take

If you would like to receive a copy of the OMAFRA Recovery BR+E Survey, contact Rian Omollo (



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