Economic and

workforce development

organizations have three ways of facilitating the creation of jobs and capital investment in any market area anywhere in the world.

  • Growth/expansion of existing firms (

    business retention and expansion

  • Creation of new firms (entrepreneurial development)
  • Attraction of external firms to the market area (business recruitment)

A holistic

economic development

strategy should, ideally, include a combination of these three elements. The fundamental question in any market area becomes prioritization of these elements to achieve maximum (ROI) return on investment.

Business retention and expansion

has many labels…Aftercare,



Existing Industries

and Retention. Regardless of the moniker,

business retention and expansion

is private-sector customer retention applied to economic and

workforce development


To illustrate this, we have taken this standard definition of private-sector customer retention from Impact Learning Systems. With very little modification, we put this definition in an

economic development


“Customer retention (

business retention and expansion

) is the activity that a selling organization (economic or

workforce development

) undertakes in order to reduce customer defections (loss of private sector businesses). Successful customer retention (

business retention and expansion

) starts with the first contact an organization (economic or

workforce development

) has with a customer (private sector business) and continues throughout the entire lifetime of a relationship. A company’s (market area's) ability to attract and retain new customers (through entrepreneurial development and business recruitment), is not only related to its product or services (community assets), but strongly related to the way it services its existing customers (existing private sector businesses) and the reputation it creates within and across the marketplace (trading area, region, province or state).”
Pursuing net new job creation is anachronistic. Today, many economic and workforce developers are being forced to ‘trade’ jobs for automation and the assimilation of technology by client companies.