VAN BUREN, AR (April 29, 2019) Van Buren area leaders attended a Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) program training held April 23-24 at the Janet Huckabee Center in Fort Smith. Hosted by Western Arkansas Planning & Development District (WAPDD) and facilitated by Business Retention & Expansion International (BREI), attendees gained valuable knowledge on approaches to business outreach and community inclusion. During the conference, strategies were discussed to integrate the city supported business outreach project currently underway as part of ongoing economic development efforts to strengthen Van Buren’s economic position in the region.
Pictured here are (from left) Joe Hurst, Mayor of Van Buren; Ashley Garris, Director of Economic Development of WAPDD; Nathan Riggs, Vice-President of Turf & Pest Pro-USA; Sasha Grist, Executive Director of WAPDD; Dennis Williamson, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act Administrator; and Julie Murray, President & CEO of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce.
In economic development, Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) is a program designed to strengthen the connection between businesses and the community. It is a program focused on establishing or continuing open communication between business, which is the life blood of the community, and the people, which are the purpose and strength of the city, to stimulate growth. BREI membership provides the opportunity to earn levels of certification and professional development in BR&E. This training and experience can then be put to use to assist in expanding local communities.
The training conference was hosted by WAPDD, and the UA Division of Agriculture-Research and Extension. Training sessions were facilitated by practitioners from BREI, WAPDD, UAEX, AEDI, and the City of Newport. BREI is a non-profit, professional association of economic development practitioners and educators committed to the advancement of business retention and expansion as a key economic development strategy.