New Michigan study touts “Economic Gardening”

Many of us in the economic development arena are becoming convinced that the best returns are produced by focusing on keeping and growing the businesses you already have, rather than prospecting for firms from outside the area.  (This is sometimes referred to as “economic gardening.”) A new study by the University of Michigan’s school of public policy (my alma mater) indicates that this approach is gaining wide acceptance among local officials in the wolverine state:

The U-M survey finds widespread support among local government leaders for the economic gardening strategy, across all regions of the state. Overall 55 percent of these officials believe the strategy can help grow their local economies. In the state’s largest jurisdictions 88 percent of officials feel this way.

The most frequently used approaches to support existing businesses include granting of tax abatements or deferments, fostering networking among local businesses and other organizations, and developing traditional infrastructure to support these businesses.

You can read the full study here.