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Thread: Business Retention Visits

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Business Retention Visits

    Our community is in the middle on developing an Economic Development Strategic Plan. As a part of that, I expect that I will be scheduling face-to-face meetings / interviews with our Mayor and the CEOs of our top local employers.

    I'm developing a list of common questions, such as:

    1. Are the services you're receiving from the City satisfactory? Where might we focus our efforts to improve?

    2. We noted that you applied for [permit / special process]. What was your experience in dealing with [department / personnel].

    3. Are you receiving consistent and reliable electric, gas, fiberoptic [yadda yadda] services from local franchises? Where might we focus our efforts to help them improve?


    Does anyone have a standard set of questions, or perhaps just post your suggestions.

  2. #2

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    The Mount Washington Valley Economic Council, in northern New Hampshire, has a pretty effective business visitation program. This website has info about their program and their current survey instrument.

    There are probably some other examples from NH, too. The NH Dept. of Resources and Economic Development (DRED - how's that for an acronym!) has a pretty aggressive business visitation program across the state. It is run by the various regional economic development groups or towns.

  3. #3
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Originally posted by Bullwinkle
    The Mount Washington Valley Economic Council, in northern New Hampshire, has a pretty effective business visitation program. This website has info about their program and their current survey instrument.

    There are probably some other examples from NH, too. The NH Dept. of Resources and Economic Development (DRED - how's that for an acronym!) has a pretty aggressive business visitation program across the state. It is run by the various regional economic development groups or towns.
    Here's the DRED link that Lindley neglected to mention... http://www.dred.state.nh.us/
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  4. #4
    Hey bturk, New Berlin does them. You may want to call them and see what things they ask.

    When I worked there as an intern, we asked some questions about where their employees live, if bus service would help them retain/attract more employees, what their anticipated growth was, and what things the city could do to improve business relationships in the City. We also asked if they had other locations and where they were. I think the questions were more economic development related, but we did ask about city services and public improvements. We also asked if they use hotels and conference centers and if so, where. We were trying to determine if there was a demand for hotels and conference facilities in the City.

    We also provided a folder with all kinds of brochures, maps, etc related to business services, like the Waukesha County Economic Development Corp's revolving loan program and the City's day care facilities.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

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  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Originally posted by jtfortin
    Hey bturk, New Berlin does them. You may want to call them and see what things they ask.
    I put a call in but now that Mark is gone, they're a bit busy. In a day or so I'll email Dave...

  6. #6
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    This should be in the FAC, but you could mention that you got your customer service motivation from a conference you recently attended just a short drive down the road.

  7. #7
    Originally posted by bturk


    I put a call in but now that Mark is gone, they're a bit busy. In a day or so I'll email Dave...
    Try Nikki, she is the one who goes on all of the visits with the mayor.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Here's a few ideas:

    1) Don't just send the mayor. Send someone who will be around for a while - i.e., an employee who can be a consistent contact from one administration to the next.

    2) Take advantage of the opportunity to tour the business. Learn what they make/do and how they do it. Be observant. Look for cues about problems (short on staffing, old equipment, confused employees, etc.). I once saw a truck show up to pick up a product, only to be sent away telling them it would be another day before it was done - production scheduling problems. On the other hand, also look for expansion cues (running out of space, lots of shiny new machines, overflowing parking lot, etc.).

    3) You may want to meet with more than one person at the company, together or individually. For example, yo might meet with the manager, human resources manager, and perhaps some folks from the parent company when they are in town (or visit them - road trip!).

    4) I don't have any set series of questions - that is saved for when I do a survey. On a visit I simply talk about "how's business?" I don't like to ask specifics about their dealings with the city - chances are they won't really give you an honest answer. Instead I approach things from the side. Try some of these:
    - How long have you been in Mukwonaville?
    - How do you think Mukwonafield compares to other cities your company has offices in?
    - What do you see happening to your business and to the Mukwonatown location in the next few years?
    - What things would you like to see change to make your business more competitive?
    - Is there anything the city can do to help your business grow in Mukwonaburg?
    Really, I try to keep it informal rather than turning the meeting into an interview.

    5) Bring them some information that they don't have. Let them lead by telling you about their business, then interject information that relates. For example, they may tell you that they are planning to spend $1 million on research to create the world's first internet-ready birdhouse. You might interject that Mukwonaton is part of a new technology zone and they may be eligible for tax credits to help defray that cost.

    6) Maintain the relationship. Call on them periodically and let them know that you exist, so that they will turn to you before they do something (good or bad) in the future.

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