Page 15 - Sussex County - 2019 Economic Development Guide
P. 15

MEconomic Gardening: Helping Sussex Companies Grow
y role is not only to recruit new businesses to the Pfaff also noted that economic gardening is “not a program area, but also to ensure that businesses already established for companies that are in trouble or companies that here are resilient and have the opportunity to need specific assistance, such as an inventory-type process. This
grow,” said Bill Pfaff, Director of the Sussex County Office of is really for companies that are beyond the startup phase that
Economic Development.
For that reason, Pfaff recently got the County on board with a program known as “economic gardening.” The program is nationally known and comes out of the Center for Economic Gardening, which was founded in 1999. During its 20-year history, the Center has been able to demonstrate increased job growth in communities from 15,000 to 30,000. Through its work, businesses have tripled sales tax revenues from $6 million to $21 million without incentives, recruiting or tax rebates.
Sussex County Council recently approved the entrepreneurial approach, which seeks to grow local economies from within, and authorized up to $25,000 for the initiative, with a maximum of $5,000 per second-stage business for the first year.
Second-Stage Companies
Economic gardening will identify second-stage companies located in Sussex County and assist them by delivering customized data that will address their strategic growth issues. “This method is in contrast to recruiting companies from other states or regions, known as economic hunting. Economic gardening will focus on local companies already operating in our County,” said Pfaff.
The County will choose five second-stage companies that have moved beyond the startup stage but have not yet reached maturity. According to Pfaff, second-stage companies are sometimes referred to as scaling or emerging growth companies. They typically employ 10 to 99 workers, with annual sales revenues of $1 million to $50 million.
Vitality, Inc.
“This provided great information for us and gave us an avenue into research we would’ve never had. It has opened us up to a whole new world.”
have the desire to grow to the next level.”
Three Brothers Wineries
“There is no way we would have been able to find this level of information on our own. Mostly because we did not know it existed. They were able to really dive into our target customers and market geographies.”
Strategic Research Team
Once businesses have applied and some have been chosen
to participate in the program, information analysis will be provided in key areas such as core strategies, market dynamics, innovation and qualified sales leads. Within these areas, each business will be assigned a national strategic research team, Pfaff said.
“These teams will leverage sophisticated corporate-level
tools and techniques, such as commercial databases, geographic information system (GIS) mapping, search engine optimization and digital marketing,” Pfaff added. The County will issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit qualified companies for the economic gardening program.
Applications, submitted by calling 302-855-7770, will be ranked based on interviews with the company’s CEO or equivalent and evaluated by the Sussex County Office of Economic Development as well as the National Center for Economic Gardening. Agreement awards will be based on the “company’s ability to grow and bring new money and jobs into the county,” Pfaff said.

   13   14   15   16   17