Washington State is committed to helping its small businesses grow. One way to do that is to help business leaders get over the inevitable hump that occurs in the second stage of a company’s life. Typically, businesses at this stage know that they need to grow, they just don’t know how, where or when.
Washington’s Economic Gardening program is designed to reduce this risk while increasing the potential for growth by engaging business specialists from throughout the country to help a company more fully understand its strengths, challenges, and most importantly, opportunities.
At its core is a group of highly specialized professionals known as the National Strategic Research Team (NSRT). These individuals are certified by the National Center for Economic Gardening, hosted by the Edward Lowe Foundation. Working together with the company’s management team, they provide analysis on core strategy, market dynamics, qualified sales leads, innovation and temperament.
Leveraging sophisticated corporate tools often not available to second-stagers, the NSRT functions like an adjunct research staff, providing CEOs with information to make better decisions about critical issues. Researchers show second-stagers the big picture so they can make necessary adjustments that lead to increased growth and profitability.
Twenty-four Washington companies have already completed the program, increasing projected revenue, adding new locations, products or services and hiring new employees to handle the new business opportunities.
What are second-stage growth companies?
- Private, for-profit companies that have been operating in a Washington State community for at least two years.
- Employ between 6-99 employees.
- Generate between $750,000 and $50 million in annual revenue.
- Demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow.
- Provide products and services beyond the local area.
What are the benefits to a company?
Economic Gardening allows you to:
- Identify market trends, potential competitors and unknown resources.
- Map geographic areas for targeted marketing.
- Raise visibility in search engine results and increased web traffic.
- Track websites, blogs and online communities to better understand competitors and current and potential customers.
- Make informed decisions on core strategies and the business model.
- Gain access to competitive data intelligence.
How does the program work?
- National Strategic Research Team coordinates schedule with participating CEOs.
- Participating CEOs spend 8 to 12 hours collaborating with the National Strategic Research Team.
- The research team spends 20-24 hours working on specific business issues.
- It then conducts a follow-up engagement for assistance with implementation.
- Completion of individual engagement with the company is completed in 4 to 6 weeks.
What are the deliverables?
- Identification of critical industry trends, current and new competitors and implementation of underutilized resources.
- Enhanced visibility in new media and web traffic, including improved search engine rankings.
- Improved tracking of digital information and online communications to improve knowledge of customers and competitors.
- Timely data that can be used to shape core strategies and future decision-making in order to better respond to the dynamic market encountered by the business.
Who are the targeted businesses?
Any second-stage company meeting the basic qualifications are encouraged to apply. Priority may be given to qualifying targeted businesses that meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Located in underserved counties based on the latest employment security department designation.
- Based in rural counties based on a combination of Census Bureau and Office of Financial Management related data and definitions.
- Based in counties that may suffer significant transitions as a result of the military downsizing.
- Qualify as women, minority or veteran-owned business.
What is the role of state and local support organizations (economic development organizations, chambers, SBDC’s, etc.)
- Identify eligible companies
- Refer companies to the program
- Discuss opportunities
- Set expectations
- Participate in follow up engagement
What does it cost?
The total cost of the Economic Gardening program is $5,000. The participating business pays $750 of that amount.
Ready to apply?
Our online application is easy to fill out and will help us assess how best Economic Gardening can help you. The application asks for information such as general company information (contact info, description, number of locations, etc.), number of employees and revenue for five years (2013-17, and 2018 projections), and up to three business issues or challenges that would benefit from Economic Gardening research and guidance.
Deborah Tuggle operates two all-natural, organic cookie companies based in Lakewood, Washington: Friday’s Cookies, a gourmet line, and Bite Me! Inc., which provides baked shortbread cookies and frozen dough balls for baking. Read the Case Study.
A Lacey-based planning and engineering firm, SCJ Alliance entered Washington’s statewide Economic Gardening program in June 2016. Read the Case Study.
Washington Vision Therapy Center
The Yakima-based company, which generates more than $1 million in annual revenue, entered Washington’s statewide Economic Gardening program in July 2016, looking for help with expansion efforts. Read the Case Study.