BREI Issues 2021 Awards of Excellence

Business Retention and Expansion International awarded two distinguished communities with its 2021 Awards of Excellence for high-quality BRE programs intended to grow and retain their local businesses.

The City of Dardenne Prairie recently received the Community Impact award for a Single Community with a Population under 20,000 for its project, “Retention Through Relocation.” Dardenne Prairie is a municipality of approximately 14,000 residents in Western St. Charles County, MO. The community features a very high median income, high housing values, access to good schools and high-quality community amenities.

With partners such as Vital Performance, Dialed Scooters & BMX, Brite Cleaners, and Dos Lagos Assets, Inc., The City of Dardenne Prairie is successfully building a community data set for unused or underutilized sites that will serve as alternatives for businesses seeking to relocate, close or expand. The project maintains one point-of-contact who coordinates with landlords, agent partners, and community businesses.

Retention Through Relocation has successfully gained the trust of many Dardenne Prairie businesses as a problem-solving resource for retention and expansion. The organization measures success by the number of businesses retained or working to find solutions within the community. In addition, they focus on tangible evidence such as follow-up meetings between landlords, City staff, and business owners. Significant effort is being expended to identify and categorize possible sites for relocation for effected businesses, along with the network of contacts for each site.

Natchez, Inc. Economic Development recently received the top award from Business Retention & Expansion International, the Impact Award, for its project “Shift South.” Natchez, Mississippi is the oldest settlement along the Mississippi River, making it an attraction for people around the world.

Natchez, Inc., in partnership with the City of Natchez; Visit Natchez; Natchez NOW; and Entergy, MS, created the Shift South project as an effort designed to relocate remote workers around the world to Natchez, MS. Shift South incentivizes the program by providing relocation reimbursements and monthly stipends for up to a year.

Social media campaigns launched the success of Shift South, leading to five applications with five more under review. The City of Natchez, along with other partners, have committed significant financial resources for this program, which in turn is stimulating the economy through home sales and commercial spending. More specifically, City of Natchez dedicated $180,000 over a three-year period to attract thirty remote workers. Natchez, Inc. is seeing a growing number of inquiries and approved applicants, in hopes of bringing in ninety remote workers total to Natchez, Mississippi. 

Ryan Kelly, Executive Director of Business Retention and Expansion International (BREI), states “We are very proud of Natchez, Inc. and the City of Dardenne Prairie for their work to grow and retain local businesses.  Anytime our members can apply BRE strategies to retain and support local businesses is appreciated, but especially considering the shutdown related to COVID and the work that has taken place to support these businesses through the post-COVID world, it makes their work all the more important.”

Learn more about these awards at

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