Economic Gardening – a new way to grow
Transforming Missouri businesses: Business Growth Services is now Economic Gardening
The Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers (MO SBTDC), with the assistance of the Edward Lowe Foundation and the Littleton, Colo., director of business and industry affairs Chris Gibbons, announces the Economic Gardening program (formerly BGS), a new statewide service that offers companies the information they need to expand markets, increase revenue and grow strategically.
The Economic Gardening team is composed of MO SBTDC counselors who have been uniquely trained in providing Fortune 500-level research to businesses positioned to grow.
“Midwest Gloves and Gear participated in the program and have had great results. Having a team leader to coordinate our program worked well. We had a conference call and developed our focus areas. Each area was assigned to a consultant, and they were all very prompt in getting back with their results. The website worked well for sharing information … . Overall we found the program very beneficial to us.”
– Karen Nichols, Executive Vice President and COO, Midwest Gloves and Gear, Chillicothe, MO
“We are now offering something unique in Missouri, although it is a process that is being used in many other states with great success,” says Paul Bateson, team leader for the Economic Gardening group, and MO SBTDC counselor with the University of Missouri in Columbia. “This is the kind of research that most companies would never be able to conduct by themselves due to the prohibitive cost of the databases and other research resources we use.
“The beauty of this program is its customization to the specific needs of each company,” Bateson adds. “And it’s delivered virtually through phone conferences, email and the web, which cuts down on the company’s time investment. We know that’s crucial for growing companies.”
The Economic Gardening team provides research individualized to each company in three major areas:
- Geographic information systems: Specialists use powerful mapping programs from the Esri online program to help businesses visualize their markets and customers. This can be utilized to find new customers, analyze the competition, identify new business locations, investigate new markets and improve the effectiveness of promotional activities.
- Social media marketing and website optimization: This information focuses on web page optimization and social media strategies using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other emerging social media. Common benefits of social media marketing include reducing promotional expenses, increasing traffic to websites, expanding a company’s reach to targeted customers and identifying when and from where potential customers search for products and services.
- Market research: Common uses for this kind of research include analyzing competition and customers, uncovering emerging trends and determining the size of potential markets. It can also provide powerful information on emerging trends.
Companies interested in participating in this new SBTDC program must meet certain criteria at the time of selection:
- Be a for-profit, privately held company headquartered and operating in Missouri;
- Have maintained its principal place of business in Missouri for at least the previous two years;
- Have between $750,000 and $50 million in annual revenue or working capital in place from investors or grants;
- Employ five to 99 full-time equivalent W-2 employees, including the owner;
- Have potential growth in revenue in the next three years that exceeds $1 million;
- Have demonstrated growth in either revenue or employees in three of the past five years;
- Provide products and/or services beyond the current service area to regional and/or international markets.
Companies interested in the Economic Gardening program must apply for services. The application includes basic information about the company, its products/services, employees, firm history and growth. Applicants are then asked to identify three basic research questions for the team to explore for the company. The application system is designed to capture information about the company quickly and securely and allows the company to have continuous access via a login and password process. The information on the application will only be seen by the economic gardening team and members of the research team assigned to the case.
Visit the MO SBTDC Economic Gardening website to learn more.
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