by Joan Tupponce
“We are here to sustain, grow and assist our existing business community.” That’s the message that the Danville Office of Economic Development is promoting through its newly branded READI program. The acronym stands for Retention and Expansion Assistance to Developing Industries.
“One of our main selling points when we meet with prospective companies is our commitment to how we don’t forget about the company once a decision is made to locate to Danville,” says Melissa Breaux, project manager for the economic development office. “Once a new project is announced, our office just doesn’t hand over the keys to the building and say ‘good luck.’”
The economic development office has dedicated a section of its website to the services devoted to helping and retaining existing industries. “The website page needed to represent our program in a modern and appealing way,” Breaux said. “It needed to portray the proactive attitude of our office, and it also needed to include convenient and easy ways to exchange information.”
Businesses using the website can fill out a survey that will help the economic development office gauge a company’s growth and assess the challenges it is facing. All information is confidential.
In working with existing businesses, Breaux taps into the office’s partnering organizations and businesses to make helpful connections. Partners include the local chamber of commerce, work-force groups, state agencies, utilities and other businesses.
“My role in retention and expansion is to act as the facilitator of the referral and to check in with my referral partner or partners to ensure the referral is being acted upon,” she says. “I try to connect them with a company that can help them.”
Financing is a big concern for many local companies, Breaux says. “There are many smaller businesses that need ideas or help with increasing market share, finding new customers or information on how to improve energy efficiency,” she says.
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