Chamber's GrowthForce program aims to accelerate regional business growth

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is ramping up its efforts to retain and grow the region's existing businesses through a revamped program called GrowthForce

GrowthForce is building and expanding on the successful 20-year old Regional Business Retention Committee (RBRC), a volunteer group of 30 business leaders who mentor local business owners through growth periods.

"GrowthForce is a collaboration of business sector volunteers, local economic development professionals, and regional Workforce Investment Boards, a vastly expanded team of experts to address business needs," said Julia Muntel, the Director of Investor Relations and Business Retention with the Chamber. "The coordinated approach allows us to maximize resources by working in a regional, aligned fashion. This gives us the most bang for our buck. GrowthForce leverages powerful, existing resources and applies the same methods and tools of business attraction to help local companies stay strong and grow jobs in the economy.

Focusing on local, established business growth isn't a small piece of Cincinnati's economic pie. In 2010, nearly three-fourths of the region's total business investment came from existing businesses, according to the Chamber.

The free program is open to companies in the 15-county tri-state region of SW Ohio, Northern Kentucky and SE Indiana. The program's goals are to grow the its number of business outreach volunteers by 25 percent, and to increase the number of participating businesses to 450, a 10 percent jump from last year.

"In this era of elevated competition and economic uncertainty, we have recently chosen to focus on companies that may be rapidly expanding, within targeted industries, or those experiencing a variety of changes in their business cycle. These high potential companies, large and small, may be well positioned for growth," explained Muntel.

GrowthForce's expansion is largely being supported with a $250,000 grant to increase business retention efforts that the Ohio Department of Development awarded the Chamber last December.

To support the program, the Chamber will publish the Cincinnati USA Regional Business Resource Guide, and provide training and orientation to partners. The resource guide and other supporting materials can be found online on the GrowthForce website.

Writer: Feoshia Henderson
Source: Chris Kemper, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

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