Business Retention and Expansion/Recruitment (BRE) Committee

Mission: Business retention, expansion and recruitment

The BRE Committee meets monthly at 11:00 a.m. on the first Friday of the month at the EDC Office.

The BRE Committee has been active for many years.  The EDC boards identified business support and workforce development as two of its four priorities for 2019.

Priority Area and Priority Summary

Business Support—Supporting existing businesses through access to information and awareness of the EDC’s services.

Strategic Priority

EDC works to build relationships with area business, with a key intent to inform them of available resources through the EDC, better understand their challenges/needs, and help them share their successes.


  1. Engage in focused one-on-one visits with existing businesses to inform of resources and streamline complications/challenges they may have.
  2. Develop a business support group of “like-minded businesses” and/or “emerging entrepreneurs;” consider the 1 Million Cup model; specific mention of support for businesses started within past 5 years and those in the retail sector.
  3. Invite bankers/accountants to a gathering to learn of EDC resources and share business needs.
  4. Develop a “community” marketing campaign to distribute EDC offerings broadly in the area.

Expected Outcomes

Businesses owners are able to streamline operations or resolve barriers they may have and learn from each other’s successes and challenges. Our communities know and understand how the EDC can help businesses.

Priority Area and Priority Summary

Workforce Development—Help build a skilled workforce that meets the needs of the local economy in order to grow and support businesses.

Strategic Priority

Building a base of support and implementing innovative strategies that expand opportunities for building a skilled workforce that meets the needs of our local economy and helps businesses grow.


  1. The BRE Committee will focus, in part, on specific initiatives related to workforce development.
  2. Promote Ridgewater College, working with partners to improve enrollment and student success.
  3. Continue to expand diverse workforce training programs like Diverse CNA/Welding.
  4. Establish a Teacher of Color pipeline program.

Expected Outcomes

These efforts will help grow and support businesses by addressing a major need in our regional economy—skilled workers. We will develop and implement innovative recruiting and training strategies that will set our region apart as a workforce development leader.

  • Skill enhancement of potential labor market
  • Higher levels of people gaining greater employment
  • People entering pathways that lead them to career with greater earning potential
  • Helping to fulfill local job market needs

Diverse Business BRE Program

In 2017, the EDC received a grant from Southwest Initiative Foundation to design and implement a BRE program for diverse businesses in the Willmar area. Read the results of the survey here 2017 Final Report for Diverse BRE Program in Willmar.

In partnership with the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, the EDC surveyed 60 service businesses and 22 manufacturing businesses in Kandiyohi County. Click here to read the findings and projects identified. Click here to read the Workshop and SWOT Analysis Priorities and Projects.

Sam Bowen, Chairperson
Les Nelson, Vice Chairperson 

Staff Liaison:
Aaron Backman, Executive Director

BRE/R Committee Minutes

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