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Online Training Course: Business Retention and Expansion

Date: November 5 - 6, 2020

Time: 10:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. ET

Location: Online (This course is no longer being held in Phoenix, AZ. See below for more details.)


As a follow-up to IEDC’s organizational statement made on March 9 on the evolving situation with the Coronavirus/COVID-19, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of registrants and instructors, IEDC has made the decision to shift our Business Retention and Expansion Training Course happening November 5-6, from an in-person course format into an online course format. The Business Retention and Expansion Training Course originally scheduled to occur in Phoenix, AZ. November 5-6, will no longer be held face-to-face. Instead, you can attend from the comfort and safety of your own home or office on the same dates (November 5-6). We apologize for the inconveniences you will experience as result of this change. We will email current registrants with more details and we hope that you are satisfied with our solution.

Course Dates - Dates of the online Business Retention and Expansion course remains November 5-6, 10:30 am – 5:00 pm ET each day (subject to change). This course will offer an interactive experience for both instructors and attendees that allows everyone to engage with one another similarly to how they would in a classroom setting, using zoom software.


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This course is held in partnership with Arizona Association for Economic Development.


This interactive course presents the core components of a BRE program and why the concerns of local businesses need to be actively addressed. By building an understanding of business visitation techniques and survey methods, practitioners will be able to clearly gauge their community's business climate. Learn the "red flags" that may indicate a company is looking to move elsewhere, and learn how to structure an effective technical assistance program to respond to business concerns. This course helps participants understand how a BRE program relates to attraction, workforce development, small business finance, technology transfer and many other economic development activities.


Course Highlights:

• Establishing, maintaining and upgrading a BRE program
• Creating effective models for business visitations and surveys
• Customer-Relationship Management (CRM) techniques
• Marketing a BRE program
• Establishing an early warning system
• Cluster and industry-focused BRE programs
• Tracking and analyzing customer feedback and response
• Quantitative and qualitative economic development metrics



November 5


Speaker introductions and session framework
Speaker introductions and a brief discussion of course objectives, desired outcomes and methodology.


Main Group Exercise - Anytown, Anywhere
This dynamic exercise will provide the underpinning and set the framework for the topics covered over the next two days.


Global factors and trends that impact business retention and expansion policies, programs, strategies and desired outcomes
In this session, attendees will learn about and discuss post-recession global realities and how they have fundamentally changed the private sector, economic development and business retention and expansion.


Lunch on your own


Global factors and trends that impact upon business retention and expansion policies, programs, strategies and desired outcomes (continued)


Workforce development as a driver for business retention and expansion
This session will examine new workforce development realities and how they will shape community building and business retention and expansion programs.


Old and new stakeholder perspectives on business retention and expansion
In this session, attendees will learn about the changing face of business retention through three unique stakeholder perspectives.


Business retention and expansion objective, outcomes and benefits


Business retention elements
Here, attendees will learn about the four mission critical elements of any business retention and expansion program.

November 6


Business retention elements (continued)


One-to-one database marketing and the correlation to business retention and expansion
Key principles from one-to-one database marketing for successful business retention and expansion will be examined and discussed.


One-to-one database marketing and the correlation to business retention and expansion (continued)


Stratifying and identifying your best customers
All customers are not created equal. This session will help attendees identify and understand who their best customers how to utilize with for successful business retention and expansion.


Lunch on your own


Implementation scenarios
Attendees will examine business retention and expansion programs in rural, urban, regional, state/provincial markets and discuss their similarities and differences.


Using business intelligence obtained through business retention and expansion
Connect the dots between business retention and expansion and relevant programs, policies and strategies and learn how to integrate BRE into the larger economic development picture.


Business retention and expansion for disaster preparedness and recovery
Business retention and expansion for disaster preparedness and recovery.


Marketing and branding your business retention and expansion program
You've put together your BRE program, but to connect with businesses, you first need to educate them. Marketing and branding are an important part any successful business retention and expansion program.


Using social media for business retention and expansion
The use of social media is pervasive in today's world. This session will examine its relevance and uses for business retention and expansion.


Leveraging resources and final takeaways
A fast-paced summary of the course and content.


* Agenda subject to change

**PLEASE NOTE: In order to receive full IEDC certification credit for this course and a certificate indicating course completion, attendance at all sessions on day 1 (Thursday) and day 2 of the course (Friday), as well as your participation in the interactive course activities are required to earn full credit. Partial credit is not given.**



Erik Collins
Montgomery County Community & Economic Development
Dayton, OH

Erik Collins is the Director of the Community & Economic Development Department for Montgomery County, Ohio – the state’s fourth largest county. Erik oversees various functions for Montgomery County including Building, Planning, and Community & Economic Development Divisions.

In Economic Development, Erik is responsible for overseeing business attraction, retention and the county’s incentive programs. Erik was instrumental in developing, and is now responsible for managing the County’s first countywide business retention and expansion initiative known as Business First! For A Greater Dayton Region. BusinessFirst! has expanded outside of Montgomery County with over 32 jurisdictions in a six county region containing over 100 Regional Resource Partners serving businesses; among the communities, over 7,000 large and small companies have been visited. BusinessFirst! has received several recognitions from the National Association of Counties Achievement Award as an innovative program contributing to and enhancing county government in the United States; Business Retention and Expansion International and The Ohio/City County Management Association (OCMA). He is a national trainer for the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) presenting best business retention and expansion practices across North America and for the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute (OUEDI). Erik serves on the Board of Directors for the Ohio Economic Development Association (OEDA).

In addition to business retention and expansion, Erik has played an instrumental role as part of the development team in several significant new investments in Montgomery County including: Collective Brands – now Payless Shoes, the largest shoe retailer in the western hemisphere, CAT Logistics – the second largest CAT facility in North America, the 1.8M sq. ft. P&G in the City of Union, WilmerHale – the fifth largest law firm in the U.S. in addition to many small and large development projects.

Erik’s accomplishments also include development of Montgomery County’s first Linked Deposit Program in partnership with the Montgomery County Treasurer in 1999 that was a $20 million program designed to buy-down interest rates for businesses and housing developers that create and retain jobs and improve Montgomery County neighborhoods; a Buy Local Program - ThinkTwice – Buy Montgomery County. In 2015 he jointly created a Strategic Enhanced Economic Development (SEED) program to strengthen business attraction and retention efforts by aligning resources and streamlining the development process for targeted strategic investments throughout Montgomery County. He is a member of the Leadership Dayton Class of 2010. In 2000, Erik was selected as one of the Dayton Business Journal’s 40 UNDER 40 professionals-recognizing the Miami Valley’s future leaders, and in 1999 was member of a professional exchange team through Rotary International’s Group Study Exchange Program to Sweden.

Laith Wardi, CEcD
ExecutivePulse, Inc.
Erie, PA

Laith Wardi, CEcD, is President and founder of ExecutivePulse, Inc. He has worked in the economic development professional for over 21 years. Laith has comprehensive experience in business retention & expansion that includes one-toone outreach to hundreds of value-added client companies, work as a resource provider, and 15 years of regional program management in his home state of Pennsylvania. During his tenure in economic development, he also worked in business incubation and provided small business mentoring services to entrepreneurs.

Laith provides skills training, technology and management consultation to clients seeking to implement systematic and sustainable business retention and expansion programs. In 1994- 95, he pioneered the first web-based system for business retention. Today, The ExecutivePulse CRM System is an industry leading technology solution for all facets of economic development and the most widely used database for business retention & expansion in North America. ExecutivePulse is now being used in Australia as well as the United States and Canada. Laith has provided training on business retention and expansion for International Economic Development Council (IEDC) since 1996. He has trained over 5,000 persons for IEDC during that timeframe. In addition to IEDC, Laith provides BR&E online instruction for the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute (OUEDI). He has also presented to hundreds of economic development and allied audiences throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Mexico on customer retention, one-to-one database marketing and technology assimilation.

Laith is a graduate of Mercyhurst University and received his economic development certification through IEDC in 2002. In addition to economic development, Laith has experience in real estate management, media sales, and as a strategic planning consultant for both public and private sector clients. He currently serves on a variety of local economic development boards and committees in Northwestern Pennsylvania.



  CEcD logo

This course meets the professional development requirements for the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) exam. CEcDs earn recertification credits for participation.




By Sept 25

Sept 26 - Oct 23

After Oct 23

IEDC Member








Full Time Student**




** Copy of current transcript required.

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Individual paying by credit card: Click this button if you are registering as an individual IEDC member or nonmember and paying by credit card.

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Individual paying by check or purchase order: Click this button to download a form (PDF) if you are paying by check or purchase order. Form must be faxed or mailed, and accompanied by payment.

Refunds less a $75 cancellation fee will be issued for all cancellations received in writing to fax: (202) 223-4745 or email: prodev@iedconline.org at least 10 business days prior to the course - please allow 3-4 weeks. All registrations regardless of payment status are subject to the $75 cancellation fee. No refunds or credit transfers to a future course will be issued for cancellations received within 10 business days of the course. Telephone cancellations are not accepted. Attendee substitutions for a course may be made at any time prior to the course.