July 17, 2023
By Kim Lindquist, Director of Community Planning, WSB
Every community is different, but all are competing to be a destination for business growth and investment. Communities rely on businesses to help support and diversify their property tax base, provide goods and services for existing and future residents, and contribute to a strong, local economy.
What can communities do to attract small businesses to their city, and help them thrive, expand, and grow? Here are three things city leaders can do to help set them apart.
Be a Liaison for Businesses & Help Connect Them to Vital Resources
From small start-ups to large manufacturers, there are numerous resources out there to support business investment and expansion, but many businesses may not know where to go to take advantage of these funding opportunities. That’s where city leaders can come in.
Having city personnel designated to act as a liaison and help businesses navigate the state, federal, and local programs available is mutually beneficial for businesses and communities. Many of these programs can be confusing and for many businesses, having an expert who can help them understand and take advantage of the numerous opportunities available can be the difference maker in deciding where they start their small business.
Convene Businesses to Demonstrate a Continued Investment in Their Success
Once a business chooses your community, that’s not the end of the story. It’s important to continue to strategically engage them for input, foster relationships, and ensure continued open lines of communication.
One way to encourage engagement is to hold regular meetings so city leaders can hear directly from the business community about key issues and ideas. Communities can also foster regular communication with digital and email updates from the city on everything from grants to road closures, to key news from local government. It’s a great way to build positive relationships with local businesses!
Communities can also help new businesses by hosting ribbon cutting ceremonies, which offer free publicity, along with informational welcome packets to start a connection with business owners and share key resources.
Explore How You Can Make Your Community a Destination for Business Investment and Growth
Every local leader wants to ensure their community is a great place to live and work, and that means tackling challenges and investing in ideas that make your community an ideal destination for businesses and people.
While there is no one magic solution to solve every problem businesses and communities face, understanding obstacles and exploring creative solutions can help set you apart. Whether that’s ensuring daycare accessibility and affordability for families, investing in livable, walkable cities and public transportation, or ensuring there is plenty of workforce housing – understanding what businesses and workers need, and how the community can support those needs is important.
Furthermore, as businesses explore communities that meet their needs, cities can work with land and property owners to provide information about vacant lots and available retail space. To attract industrial businesses, shovel ready programs run through cities, states, or electric companies can also show what property is available to meet their needs.
How WSB Can Help
Is your community looking to attract new businesses? WSB can help.
We provide city planning with focuses on community and economic development, strategic planning, public engagement, and can even help apply for funding and grants.
Kim is a planning professional with over 30 years of experience overseeing a variety of complex planning projects. She has worked in high growth communities with developers and the public on entitlements for residential development and attracting business to the city.
[email protected] | 763.287.8303