We recently came across a social media post that said something like, “Why is it so hard for startups, but then we spend so much to attract new businesses?” This is a common misunderstanding about economic development, versions of which every economic developer hears on a regular basis. In part, it’s because big, successful recruitments are what get the headlines, so the public thinks that’s all we do, and people are unaware of our programs to support our existing business community.
It’s generally understood in economic development that about 80% of local economic growth will come from the businesses that are already located in the community or are started there. For that reason, most economic development organizations dedicate 80% of their resources to assisting local businesses. This is the case here in Charles County where we have a strong focus on business retention and expansion.
In fact, knowing how important it is to have staff dedicated to connecting with and supporting our local businesses, the Economic Development Department (EDD) created a new position this fiscal year. Our new Business Retention and Expansion Manager, Anthony Adesina, joined in January 2022 and hit the ground running to engage with our existing businesses, support business growth and retention, help businesses tap into new markets domestically and internationally, and promote Charles County as a viable business destination.
The focus on existing businesses has never been more evident than during the COVID pandemic the past 2 years, when we processed and disbursed over $6 million dollars in relief grant money to our small businesses affected by COVID, created a Recovery Task Force to identify business needs and short and long-term solutions, and devoted a majority of our resources and human capital to projects designed to ensure the best chance for an economic recovery in Charles County.
Ongoing Local Business Support
The EDD offers a complete range of business services to help entrepreneurs and businesses grow and thrive in Charles County. We don't always have the answers, but it’s our job is to know who does. We collaborate with many resource partners who provide a range of services and assistance to businesses, and often our job is to connect businesses with the right resources. In fact, we have put together a catalog of local businesses resources. Download our Business Resources Guide for a comprehensive list.
Free Business Trainings
Another way the EDD supports our small businesses is through ongoing trainings. Our current Business Growth Advantage Program (BGAP) was developed to meet the needs of growing businesses in Charles County and to address business impacts due to COVID. The 8-week BGAP programs is designed to boost businesses to the next level and is offered at no cost. Graduates receive a $10,000 grant to be used for working capital.
The program has already graduated its first cohort, and a second is underway. Applications for the third cohort are currently being accepted. (QUOTE)
Our Scale Up workshop trainings, running through January 2023, can help our small businesses in their transition from an early stage to a growth stage company. Explore these free webinars.
In short, Charles County is a location where small businesses have the resources and support to start, grow, and thrive. Our small businesses are the heart of our economy and at the heart of everything we do at the EDD. Follow us on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) and subscribe to our weekly ENews, to keep up-to-date on resources for small local businesses.