Grow Cabarrus Offers More Support to Local Manufacturers

The Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation (Cabarrus EDC) announced the continuation of its economic gardening program, Grow Cabarrus, in an exciting partnership with the State of North Carolina. Eligible Cabarrus County manufacturers will receive the funding to participate in Grow Cabarrus from the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP), a state program funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“As we looked ahead to 2021, we knew that Grow Cabarrus needed to be a priority of ours, but we weren’t entirely sure how we were going to fund it,” says Page Castrodale, Executive Director of the Cabarrus EDC. “We are very grateful for this partnership opportunity that will allow us to continue these efforts and I look forward to seeing how more of our local companies are able to benefit from it.”

Through recent CARES Act funding, NCMEP has launched an Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) to provide services that support manufacturers’ ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and improve their competitiveness as the marketplace adapts. The economic gardening program provides many of the tools that can support manufacturers as they maneuver through these challenging times. After the success of Cabarrus County’s pilot program, the NCMEP has expanded the program to support eligible manufacturers throughout the state.

“We have seen the positive impact that this initiative has had in our own community and we are eager for our peers across the state to experience the same thing,” says Castrodale.

Cabarrus EDC is able to accept a limited number of manufacturers into the Grow Cabarrus program and will continue to offer the program while funds are available.

What Is Economic Gardening?

Economic gardening is a concept to “grow from within” by targeting existing companies in the region and helping them become larger. The idea was first implemented by Chris Gibbons in 1987. At that time, 7,500 individuals in Littleton, Colorado had just lost their jobs due to cutbacks at Lockheed Martin. The city was reeling from the loss of the manufacturer, as well as the 1 million square feet of suddenly vacant real estate.

Gibbons came in to implement a new plan to work exclusively with local companies in order to create new jobs over the next two decades. The plan focused on providing research to help companies make decisions in strategic areas, such as market research, industry trends, competitor intelligence, potential markets, trade areas, etc. It also included an analysis in five classes of business problems – core strategy, market dynamics, innovation, temperament, and qualified sales leads.

The newly implemented concept would go on to more than double the amount of jobs in the city and triple their sales tax revenue. It helped companies identify new opportunities, problem areas, and other key intelligence to help them make better, more strategic decisions for their businesses. Gibbons went on to become the Founder of the National Center for Economic Gardening (NCEG), which has now established economic gardening programs in more than 25 states.

Cabarrus EDC Establishes Grow Cabarrus

It was not until 2019 that the economic gardening program finally made its way to North Carolina. After visiting Littleton, Colorado to learn more about the program, Cabarrus EDC’s Executive Director Page Castrodale, who was serving as the Director of Existing Industries at the time, returned with high recommendations to start an economic gardening program in Cabarrus County. A few weeks later, the first economic gardening program in North Carolina was formed, called “Grow Cabarrus”.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic entering our lives a few short months after its launch, four local, second-stage companies have made their way through Grow Cabarrus, and a fifth company is expected to start soon. These companies were provided with corporate-level tools that they typically would not have access to or may not have heard about. As Gibbons puts it, “it gives them strategic information to solve problems and identify new opportunities.”

The continuation of the Grow Cabarrus program will allow the Cabarrus EDC to support additional manufacturers by offering strategic research, resources and tools to help them identify new opportunities for their businesses.

Who Is Eligible for Grow Cabarrus?

Grow Cabarrus puts a team of business research experts at the company’s disposal to find information that can help them make key decisions. Often this information includes market research, industry trends, competitor intelligence, but it can also be customized to fit the company’s specific needs.

Second-stage manufacturers in Cabarrus County can qualify for the program if they meet the following requirements:

  • 10 to 100 employees
  • $1M to $50M in annual revenue
  • Experienced growth in 3 of the last 5 years
  • Located in Cabarrus County, but has a customer base outside of Cabarrus County
  • Impacted by COVID-19

The Cabarrus EDC looks forward to serving more companies in the Grow Cabarrus program. For more information about Grow Cabarrus or to submit your company’s interest form, visit cabarrusedc.com/grow-cabarrus.

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