About the Certifications

The hallmark of any good economic developer is certification. By obtaining certification in your trade, you are demonstrating to your peers that you have obtained a level of knowledge and understanding that allows you to fully accomplish what is needed in the field.

For business retention & expansion professionals, this certification is internationally recognized as the BRE Coordinator (BREC) and the BRE Professional (BREP).

The BRE Coordinator (BREC) certification is the entry-level certification designed for those with a working knowledge and application of BRE, but have not yet risen to the level of long-standing professional in the trade. One must first complete the BREI Fundamentals Course before earning the BREC, and then must complete designated levels of education to maintain the certification.

The BRE Professional (BREP) certification is the higher level certification offered by BREI to those who have advanced their education and practice of BRE to the professional level. Applicants must first have an active BREC certification and have met designated requirements before applying for the BREP.

Once certification requirements are obtained and ones’ application is accepted by the BREI Education Committee, a certificate will be sent to each receipt for framing. Certifications run for three years before renewal is required. All certification holders are advertised through various platforms as certification recipients.

Certification Courses

All BREI educational courses are available for continuing education credits in order to meet certification guidelines. These courses are designed to assist members to better understand both historical and modern trends in BRE and to be the best in the field. Courses range from survey design and analysis to marketing and workforce improvement. Each course is taught by an expert in the respective field of study.

A brief summary of popular courses for BREI are below.  The organization is working to add many new courses per year, so not all courses currently offered are included on this list.

Fundamentals Course

This core course for BREI is designed to provide the participant with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement a Business Retention and Expansion Visitation program and improve the economic state of their community.  BRE develops economic strategy recognized and utilized worldwide. BRE Fundamentals covers the essential information to coordinate a BRE program through an intensive two-day course. BRE practitioners and academics worldwide developed workshop materials by identifying the basics needed to implement and maintain a successful BRE program.  A variety of visitation program types will be covered and each type will be discussed with regard to its impact on community capacity building.

The Fundamentals Course has been designed in two forms: the Volunteer Visitor Model and the Continuous Model.

The Volunteer Visitor Model focuses on the needs of the community, and it utilized community volunteers to supplement full-time staff to survey businesses in order to evaluate community and business needs.

The Continuous Model focuses on the needs of the businesses, and it utilized full-time staff to survey businesses in order to address their needs and concerns for growth and retention.

The BRE Fundamentals course educates through lectures, group discussions, group exercises and Q&A with established BRE practitioners.  Upon successful completion of the course, attendees earn the title of BRE Project Coordinator. This certification is a prerequisite to continuing training in other BRE programs.

Building Enterprising and Vibrant Communities and Local Economies Through the Lens of Asset Based Community Driven Efforts (ABCDE)

This workshop is designed for community enthusiasts and builders, LED practitioners and civic leaders who want to discover more about Asset Based Community Driven Efforts (ABCDE) – philosophies and methodologies, and their potential and application to developing their communities and local economies.  Read more.

Survey Design and Analysis

This course provides community and economic development professionals with an overview of basic survey design and analysis tools complete with practical theory, survey construction, and analysis of survey results presented.  The data necessary for analysis from a representative survey will be discussed with specific representative survey sample locations on the Internet provided where possible.

Program Evaluation: How To Measure Success

The purpose of this course is to expose the student to various measures of analyzing the economy of a community or region.  Evaluating a BRE program is essential in order to benchmark your program’s effectiveness and long-term viability. The course is intended to enable the participant to:

  • To understand the concepts inherent in program evaluation
  • To effectively communicate those concepts to stakeholders
  • To utilize the concepts in improving and delivering programs

Sources of Secondary Socio-economic Data Course

The Sources of Secondary Socio-economic Data Course is designed to inform the participant about the particular/specific data that is available to describe or analyze the social and economic conditions in a particular community, region or state/province.  Participants will be provided access to or informed about data that is as specific as possible to their community (at the present time, the bulk of the data available to the instructor is U.S. data; there are few data sources in Canada outside of StatsCanada).

Homework and class lecture/discussion will focus on identifying new and unique sources of data that may be unfamiliar to the economic development professional. This includes U.S. federal data, state governmental data, proprietary data and foundation/service organization data sources. A final project will be required where the student develops a full data profile for a community, county or region of particular interest to the student. This project will be due within two weeks of the end of the course.

Retail Analysis and Development Course

The Retail Analysis and Development Course is designed to inform the participant about the particular/specific data that is available to analyze the retail sector, to provide a set of analysis tools that allow the retail development professional the means to develop meaningful analysis of a particular community’s retail sector, and to develop concepts that enable a community to develop that sector to a fuller extent than it was before. Participants will be provided access to or informed about data that is as specific as possible to their community.

Homework and class lecture/discussion will target efforts to develop a retail analysis of a specific community. A final project will be required where the student develops a full analysis of a particular community and develops a set of recommendations/strategies to expand the retail sector.

Economic Analysis Course

The purpose of this course is to expose the student to various measures of analyzing the economy of a community or region. The course is intended to enable the participant to:

  • To utilize the data concepts presented in the Sources of Socio-economic Data Course (the Sources of Secondary Socio-economic Data course is not a prerequisite for the Economic Analysis course) to facilitate an analysis of the local community or region
  • To provide a means to transform data into information and develop enowledge and innovation
  • To provide a basis for identifying sectors to recruit or grow in the community

Building Effective Teams Course

The purpose of this course is to develop an understanding of the elements that comprise a successful Business Retention and Expansion program including groups, organizations and individuals. The potential and limitations of each provide insight for establishing and sustaining a strong BRE program.  The primary resources for this course are “How to Make Meetings Work” by Doyle and Straus, “Everything DiSC” by Inscape, “A Guide to Generations” by Rachelle Vettern, North Dakota State University. The course is intended to enable the participant to gain an understanding of the following:

  • Recruitment
  • Orientation
  • Makeing meetings effective and efficient
  • Strategic relationship building, partnerships, coalitions and collaborations

Discovering Emotional EQ

The purpose of this course is to develop an understanding of your Emotional Intelligence and utilize this knowledge in your day-to-day activities. Your emotional intelligence consists of four basic skills/ self awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. These skills affect everything we think, do and say each day and have a tremendous impact on our performance and effectiveness. The workshop is very interactive and can only be taught in a face-to-face format.

Introduction to Excel

Learn how to use an Excel workbook template that allows you to tabulate, sort, and average your BREI survey inputs into meaningful numbers for analysis. Class participants will be given a sample BREI survey and a matching Excel template into which individual survey data is entered. Counts, various averages, and other percentages are automatically generated as data is entered. Techniques will be demonstrated on how to quickly view data subsets.

Participants will learn how to change the survey and template for your own questions. Pre-work will be made available for participants that need to brush up on certain Excel skills before the webinar training.