Economic Gardening and Your Business

Expert help can help you identify opportunities for big growth. You might be familiar with the old maxim to “bloom where you’re planted.” It’s good advice—especially for communities that are trying to grow their economies.

Economic gardening (EG), simply put, is an emerging economic development philosophy that puts local entrepreneurs first. Instead of recruiting businesses from outside the community, EG programs help “homegrown” businesses achieve new levels of success and growth.

And the nature of that help is different from a lot of economic development programs, which offer tax incentives or help with infrastructure improvements. When a company participates in an EG program, the company gets access to experts who can help to identify issues that might be hindering its growth—and point it to tools that can help it reach its potential.

Asking the Right Questions





Usually, a company’s issues can be identified by considering a few critical strategic questions.

» What does the company need to know about market trends, potential partners and unknown resources in its industry?

» What additional information can the company draw upon in its industry to help it identify new prospects?

» Are there specific geographical regions the company should target?

» How does the company’s website and online strategy stack up to competitors and industry standards, and is it optimized for customers searching for its products?

Once the business has identified what it needs to do next, EG programs can provide help with geographic information systems, market research, SEO tools, social media monitoring and sales lead generation.

Finding Help

There’s a good chance that your community already offers economic gardening services in some form. Even if it doesn’t, you still have some great alternatives.

Make a call // Call your local economic development person or Chamber of Commerce to ask if they are participating in any type of EG program. Both Kansas and Missouri have EG programs under way. It’s possible you actually do have access to EG services, and your company might qualify for a one-time engagement, limited engagement or pay-for engagement.

Contract for specific services // There are three types of organizations that can provide services similar to EG programs: market researchers, geographic information system (GIS) specialists, and search engine optimization (SEO) specialists. You may be able to contract for all three experts in a one-time engagement for a cost of $3,000 to $4,000 or contract with one specialist for $150 to $250 per hour. Ask your local economic development people for recommendations.


Enlist the assistance of free, local experts // Kansas and Missouri both have small business development centers that understand the role of EG-type information and how your business can access it. You can contact KCSourceLink to get the names of these resource partners on either side of the state border.