Business Retention and Expansion Program

Business Retention nd Expansion (BRE) Program

Research shows EXISTING businesses create 60% to 80% of all new jobs.

A healthy and vibrant local economy depends on the well-being of local businesses. Local business health can be fostered via a community-led Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Program led by Ohio State University Extension, Community Development.

A BRE program involves a dialogue with local businesses to better understand their issues and concerns. Such efforts can show the community’s appreciation for business contributions and enable local leadership to identify economic development strategies informed by local business as well as inform the community at large about individual and community-wide business concerns.

Perhaps most importantly, however, a BRE program facilitates improved relationships among local development organizations and business leaders. This collaboration can lead to more effective communications and long-term working partnerships resulting in more cooperative community policy and decision-making.

Please watch this video to learn how a BRE program can help your community. After the video, if you are interested in learning more about BRE, please contact me at

David Civittolo
Associate Professor and Interim Assistant Director
OSU Extension, Community Development

Program Bulletin: Building Community Capacity for BRE - A hands-on approach to economic development (3rd edition, 2021)

Communities that actively implement an on-going BRE program focusing on the retention and expansion of local businesses will:

  • Improve the business climate of the community
  • Help to make local businesses remain competitive
  • Increase employment
  • Stabilize the local economy

The Ohio Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) Program provides the resources, training, and tools to develop the capacity of the community to better understand its economy. In addition to enhanced community capacity to address critical community issues, other outcomes of such community engagement include a streamlined BRE process that enables local leaders to focus on planning, action and results; a database of local information; and a more robust local economy. Nearly nine out of ten members have rated the program as 'HIGH VALUE.'

The Ohio State University was involved in the original development and became an early adopter of BRE principles and methodology. Since 1986, the Ohio Business Retention & Expansion Program has developed the capacity of community leaders via more than 140 BRE programs in 77 Ohio counties.

For more information, contact co-leaders Nancy Bowen, associate professor and field specialist, community cconomics, or David Civittolo, associate professor and interim assistant director, CD. Additional team members include:

  • Kenzie Johnston, educator, CD/ANR, OSU Extension-Delaware County
  • Joe Lucente, associate professor and Extension educator, Ohio Sea Grant College Program
  • Eric Romich, associate professor and field specialist, energy development
  • Gwynn Stewart, educator, CD, OSU Extension-Noble County

Our Mission

To serve as a resource for education, training, and research assistance to help communities identify and address opportunities and issues that impact their regional and local economies.

Our Objective

To provide the tools, training, and resources needed to develop the capacity of communities to analyze and monitor their regional and local economies and use this information as a basis for economic development action and planning.