The mission of SEDA is to implement programs that strengthen and diversify the local economy, encourage a vibrant business climate, and continually improve the quality of life for the citizens of Stephenville.

With this mission in mind, SEDA has set many long-term and short-term goals for the community.  Long-term goals include establishing a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ).  

More immediate goals involve supporting our local businesses and include creating a Façade Matching Grant Program and Business Retention and Expansion Program in 2017.  

Over the next several weeks I will highlight one of the SEDA initiatives. Today’s topic is the Businesses Retention Expansion Program (BREP). 

There are 416 businesses in Stephenville that employ over three or more people.  Collectively, these companies are responsible for 11,939 jobs to Stephenville’s workforce.  

According to the International Economic Development Council, existing businesses create as many as 80 percent of all new employment in a community. When an established business fails, downsizes or relocates, communities may also experience adverse ripple effects that could include other business failures, strains on social services, schools and families. 

Conversely, research shows that a thriving local economy makes that community attractive to new business ventures considering setting up shop there. Retaining and expanding existing businesses is a better economic development bet than recruiting new businesses from other cities.  

Our goal for 2017 will be to assemble and train a team that will visit 12 of Stephenville’s largest companies in 2017.

John Hubbard is the executive director of SEDA and is a regular contributor to the Empire-Tribune.