Rochester, N.Y. — Greater Rochester Enterprise (GRE) is now accepting applications for the third round of its innovative Economic Gardening Program, which aims to foster business growth across the Greater Rochester, N.Y., region. The program, which is the only one of its kind in New York State, is designed to provide free, sophisticated, tailor-made technical assistance to local companies that are ready and geared for expansion.
Qualified companies are encouraged to apply online at rochesterbiz.com/gardening.
“At least 80 percent of our economic growth will come from companies already located right here in our region,” GRE President & CEO Mark S. Peterson said. “That’s why it is so important to support local businesses with our Economic Gardening Program, which is accelerating the momentum driving innovation and progress in the Greater Rochester region.
“By connecting promising, young businesses with the resources they need to grow, this program empowers local companies to achieve their fullest potential and create new jobs,” he added.
In order to participate in the program, companies must be for-profit and privately held, headquartered and operating in Monroe or Ontario Counties, generate between $1 million and $50 million in annual revenue, employ 10 to 99 employees, have maintained principal operations in the area for a minimum of two years, demonstrate growth in employment and/or revenue for at least two of the past five years, and provide products and/or services to markets outside of Rochester.
If selected, companies will work with a strategic research team to develop a plan to further accelerate their business success. Research teams are provided by the Edward Lowe Foundation, a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship. The team will perform focused research to help companies:
- Identify qualified sales leads by sorting contents of extensive databases.
- Map geographic areas using GIS software to facilitate targeted marketing efforts.
- Review core strategies related to commodity and/or niche markets.
- Examine social media utilization to connect with customers.
- Place your website in front of more customers using search engine optimization (SEO).
- Analyze employee temperament to build strong management teams.
Penny Lewandowski, vice president of entrepreneurship and strategic direction at the Edward Lowe Foundation, believes second-stage companies benefit greatly from this initiative.
“Economic gardening is ideal for second-stage entrepreneurs because it focuses on critical strategic challenges they’re wrestling with — from developing new markets and refining business models to accessing competitive intelligence,” she said. “By providing second-stage CEOs with action-oriented tools and information, economic-gardening specialists point them to new opportunities they may never have thought of on their own.”
Trends show that second-stage companies are strong job creators. “They are typically creating 37 percent of the jobs, and they are powerhouses when it comes to job creation,” Lewandowski said.
Local companies that have taken advantage of GRE’s Economic Gardening Program are now encouraging others to pursue the opportunity.
“The Economic Gardening team has delivered information that would have taken months and months to gather on our own,” Scott Bass, owner of Advanced Language Translation. “All the pieces worked together to make this project highly effective. Economic Gardening is a great fit for the Rochester business community, and the tools are ideally suited for the types of issues most business owners face.”
Piloted in July 2012, the first GRE Economic Gardening Program provided assistance at no charge to a select group of 20 second-stage businesses located in the Greater Rochester, N.Y., region, including Applied Energy Solutions, Finger Lakes Technology Group, Savage IO and PharmaSmart International.
Due to the consultative services received, several participants from the first GRE Regional Economic Gardening Program are on track to acquire other businesses and add staff and resources to further bolster growth.
The Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation provided support for educational components of the program. Additional financial assistance from M&T Bank will enable GRE to also pursue peer-to-peer learning circles, CEO forums and CEO roundtable discussions among second-stage companies as a continuation of its first Economic Gardening Program.