Introduction to Economic Gardening

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is it - in a simple sentence?

    An economic development program focused on helping Second Stage companies grow.

  • What does that name mean?

    Traditional economic development focuses on recruiting companies to come to town (economic hunting). This program focuses on growing local companies (economic gardening).

  • What is a Second Stage company and why focus on them?

    Second Stage companies, sometimes called emerging growth companies, are defined as having $1-$50 million in sales and 5-99 employees. They have a proof of product, proof of market, and proof of management skills. they typically have the potential for additional sustained growth, but do not have access to the sophisticated tools and concepts of larger companies.

  • What do I get from the program?

    Research to help you make decisions in strategic areas, specifically:

    • Market research, industry trends, competitor intelligence, new product releases
    • CIS computer maps of customers, competitors, potential markets, and trade areas
    • Search engine optimization (SEO), web marketing, social media
    • Analysis in five classes of business problems - core strategy, market dynamics, innovation, temperament, qualified sales leads
  • What won't I get?

    We don't do implementation. You will have to hire your own consultants for that. We don't analyze your financials. We don't do primarly research (surveys, telephone calls, focus groups). We don't do business plans.

  • How will this work and how long will it take?

    Initially, the team leader will interview you in a discovery call and establish a baseline of information. The questions will be about how you got started, what you do for your customers, who your competitors are, what the market looks like, if you are working on any innovations, and similar types of information. The call typically takes 1 to 1.5 hours.

    At the end of that call, research tasks will be assigned to specialists (after approval by you) and we will go to work for you immediately. We will also set up dates for check in calls and a close out call.

    The National Center for Economic Gardening (NCEG) uses a secure engagement software to communicate research results. Our team will monitor the site to make sure all work is done and your team will be notified whenever something new is posted. In about 10 days, the team leader will check in with a mid-course call. If the focus needs to be adjusted, some lines of research ended, or deeper information explored, this will be the time to make those adjustments. Following, there will be another check-in at 20 days.

    Around 30 days, the team leader will conduct a close-out call.

  • How do I work with the NCEG?

    The basic relationship is one of high-powered staff on loan to you for a few weeks. They will work with you to determine what decisions you are ready to make? and what information you need to make those decisions.

    The national team consists of private sector contractors from all over the country who specialize in a number of areas. The SEO companies, for example, do only that type of work all year long. You will have access to this sophisticated kind of technical assistance that you may not have been able to afford in your early growth stages.

  • How long will it take?

    Engagements generally run about four-five weeks from initial interview to final survey. Obviously, the demands of business and personal lives may alter this, but we try to work at the speed of business - results in hours and days, not weeks and months

  • How much of my time will you need?

    Past experience has indicated the CEO devoted 8-12 hours over a four-five week period from beginning to end.

  • Where did this program come from?

    Economic Gardening was created in the City of Littleton, Colorado and refined over a 25-year period. In 1987, Littleton experienced nearly 7,000 layoffs at the nearby Martin Marietta (Lockheed Martin today) plant due to the end of the Cold War. While Martin had been a very good corporate citizen for Littleton, the 1987 city council was concerned about the major influence that out-of-state corporations had on the local and gave staff the charge to work with local businesses and create good jobs. Over the next two decades, the program was tested and refined and the story of its success began to spread across the country.

  • What kind of results have been seen with this program?

    The program is running or has run successfully in 34 states, regions, and cities including state projects in Florida, Michigan, Kansas, Louisiana, Wyoming, Colorado, and regional projects in Minnesota, Maryland, New York, and Utah.

    Results have been significant. Littleton's job base went from 15,000 to 30,000 in twenty years without recruiting a single company. Florida has added over 4,000 jobs. Growth rates in Kansas have averaged over 15%. Rochester reported 1,126 jobs and 30% revenue growth directly attributable to Economic Gardening.