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Zhang, X, and Warner, M.E. (2017). Business Retention and Expansion and Business Clusters - A Comprehensive Approach to Community Development, Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society, Special Issue on Business Retention and Expansion, (forthcoming).

This paper explores trends in Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) and business clusters over the last two decades (1994-2014). Using national surveys of local governments, this paper finds that BRE has evolved from a focus on strengthening branch plants and their competitive links to parent firms, to a broader emphasis on building local business cluster networks. BRE strategies have diffused across the nation, but business clusters are more common in metro core cities. Municipalities that have written economic development plans and use local funding are more likely to use BRE. This paper finds cluster strategies are embedded in a broader set of community economic development strategies that strengthen quality of life and the foundation for community wellbeing. Unlike Michael Porter’s emphasis on business clusters and competitiveness alone, this paper finds economic developers recognize the need to focus not only on business clusters and competitiveness, but also on local services.

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Subject: Economic Development,Rural Development