BREI Finds Success with Pivot to New Methods and Technologies

As long-time BREI members may have noticed, we have operated differently in 2020.  Like most organizations across the globe, BREI has felt the weight of COVID-19 and embraced the opportunities that technological advances have created.  New tools including Basecamp and Zoom have been heavily utilized by BREI, transitioning a largely in-person organization into one that is relying much more on digital communication and connection.  

We are happy to report that as a result of this pivot, BREI experienced a very positive year in 2020.  Our membership actually increased by about 8%, the number of participants in our Fundamentals Courses increased by 50%, and we offered multiple continuing education sessions to a more diverse group of members.  Financially, BREI experienced a positive year as well as a result of these new trainings and reduced expenses.  Lastly, BREI entered into several new partnerships with organizations from the US, Canada and Great Britain to expand its footprint and effective outreach across the globe.

Overall, BREI is poised to enter 2021 a stronger and better equipped organization due to the hard work and difficult decisions of its board of directors, members and staff.  We will continue to provide quality business retention and expansion training, news and education to members in a manner by which would be most effective and accessible.  

Thank you for your continued membership and support of BREI!

2020 BREI Award Recipients

Business Retention and Expansion International (BREI) presents awards each year to deserving members for excellence in their pursuit of growing and retaining local businesses and industry.  These “Awards of Excellence” are given during the BREI Annual Meeting, which provides an opportunity for peers from throughout the world to hear about the projects and recognize this achievement.

Three awards were presented to deserving programs in 2020.  The 2020 award recipients and their projects are as follows:


Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission receives the Community Impact award for a Single Community with a Population from 20,000 to 50,000 for its project, “Hancock County Aerospace Strategy Initiative.”   

Hancock County is located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on the western side of the state. Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission owns and operates Port Bienville Industrial Park in the lower part of the County which houses a maritime Port and short line railroad, home to 14 companies. HCPHC also owns and operates the Stennis International Airport & Airpark in the Northern area of the County, which is home to 12 companies.

The development of a strategy began in 2017 when HCPHC used a U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to hire a consulting firm who worked to develop the Aviation and Aerospace Optimization Plan.

As a result of the master planning efforts, HCHPC can now deliver tangible capital improvement projects and site development via marketing materials to relevant parties. This includes least cost development scenarios to mitigate speed to market, environmental and budget variables, but it also prioritized real investments at Stennis International Airport (KHSA) with projects in various stages of completion, including: Announcement of PRCC Aviation & Aerospace Workforce Academy; Construction of 12,000 SF Corporate Hangar; Construction of 26,000 SF Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Hangar; Design of multi-user parallel 5,000 foot runway; Formal application for licensure to the FAA for use of KHSA as a commercial spaceport; Design of 20-Acre Technology Park adjacent to Airport terminal; Part 141 & Part 61 Flight School agreement.

Through implementation of this strategy, existing industry has shown investment through recent announcements, including Relativity Space with 200 new jobs and more than $65 million in capital investment and Lockheed Martin Space Systems with 30 new jobs and $30 million in capital investment


Dufferin Economic Development receives the Community Impact award for a Multi-Community with a Population from 50,000 to 100,000 for its project, “Food for Thought.”

Located approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Toronto and home to over 61,000 residents, Dufferin County is known for its agriculture, arts, charming settlements, rolling hills, beautiful landscape (includes some Niagara Escarpment), and outdoor recreation.

Dufferin County recognized that the Agriculture and Food Sector is a powerful economic generator for their region during a time of strong population growth.  The goal of this project was to engage Dufferin County’s Agriculture and Food business community in an effort to gain valuable insight around the sector’s immediate and future needs, and determine how to support positive change in an effort to enhance the business environment as it pertains to agriculture and food in Dufferin County. This project resulted in a growing collaboration from a wide variety of community groups and businesses working together.


Norfolk Department of Economic Development receives the Community Impact award for a Multi Community with a Population Over 100,000 for its project “COVID-19 Business Retention and Recovery Campaign.”

Norfolk is part of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metropolitan area, also called the “Hampton Roads” region, in the State of Virginia in the United States. Norfolk, with a population of approximately 245K, is at the heart of the Hampton Roads community, a place 1.7 million people call home.

The Norfolk Department of Economic Development, in partnership with the Hampton Roads Alliance’s Regional Business Recovery Task Force, launched the Business Retention and Recovery campaign as a multifaceted effort designed to position Norfolk for a successful recovery from the COVID-19 disaster. Project components included: a large-scale outreach campaign primarily to small businesses, the immediate creation of the Norfolk Economic Disaster Assistance Loan & Grant products, an integrated marketing communications effort, coupled with the long-term support of businesses identified as “at-risk” for closure.

The Outreach team was able to identify 210 “at-risk” businesses to be monitored and extensively supported with wrap-around services and enhanced resources for a 12-to-18 month period, with a tentative conclusion date of June 2021. The campaign was an incredibly robust effort resulting in over 1,000 businesses directly engaged, more than 350 businesses surveyed, and the distribution of over $300K in grants and loans, before locally administered CARES Act funding became available.


Ryan Kelly, executive director of BREI states, “We are very proud of our three 2020 award recipients for their dedication and hard work at growing and preserving local business.  Their work demonstrates the professionalism and exceptional performance that we have grown to enjoy in our economic developers, and I firmly believe that these projects will have lasting impact in their individual communities.”

For more information on Business Retention and Expansion International, visit

2019 BREI Award Recipients

Each year, BREI has the pleasure of recognizing select agencies and organizations with Awards of Excellence.  These are due to exceptional efforts in the field of business retention and expansion with respect to local projects to retain and grow local business.  The 2019 award winners announced in Jackson, Mississippi are as follows:

Outstanding Single Community with a Population Under 20,000
Athens Economic Development Corporation
Project:  Biomerics, FMI

Outstanding Single Community with a Population Between 20,000 – 50,000
Powhatan County
Project:  BR&E Program Re-launch

Outstanding Multi – Community with a Population Between 50,000 – 100,000
The Corporation of the County of Wellington
Project: Invest Well Community Improvement Programme (CIP)

Outstanding Multi – Community With A Population Over 100,000
The Corporation of the County of Simcoe
Project: Simcoe, Grey & Bruce Counties Agriculture & Agri-For Value Chain BRE Study

Outstanding State / Province Award
Mississippi Development Authority
Project: Continental Tire, Clinton, MS

Impact Award
Newfoundland & Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs
Peer Mentoring Program: Mastermind and Boost

Click here to learn more about these outstanding programs.


By Ryan Kelly –

Such a simple question is a helpful one for us to ask.

With all of the organizations that exist to support industry and economic development, why chose BREI for membership and involvement?

The answer is in the focus.  Business Retention & Expansion International is laser-focused on BRE.  We provide two certifications designed to provide grass-roots training for implementing a BRE program, complete with survey tools and methodologies for implementing these tools.  We provide a huge number of BRE-specific resources and a wealth of institutional and professional knowledge on the subject.

BREI is not an economic development association that does everything plus BRE.  We ONLY do BRE, and we go in-depth with the offerings that we provide.

You will not find this anywhere else but with BREI.

You must know who you are to be successful, and we have and will continue to be the world leader in business retention and expansion training and education.  We are continuing to find new ways to education and empower our members, and we are continuing to learn the latest and greatest strategies for accomplishing the needs of a changing and evolving world economy with emphasis on the nuances of the local environment.

We believe in what we do, and we believe in our membership.  Do you know someone that is not yet a member of BREI?  Be sure to recommend them to join and earn your $50 credit to use for membership or educational activities.  They can join online by clicking here.

BREI 2018 Award Recipients and New Officers

Business Retention and Expansion International (BREI) recently held it’s annual Awards Program, and deserving applicants were announced Applications for these awards are accepted throughout the year, and judging takes place each spring through a professional awards committee. The 2018 Award Recipients include:

The State/Province/Territory Award was granted to Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE) for its work on the Women’s Economic Forum Drivers of Growth project.

The Outstanding Single Community with a Population Under 20,000 Award was granted to Athens Economic Development Corporation for its work on the Freeport Tax Exemption project.

The Outstanding Multi Community with a Population Over 50,000 Award was granted to the Municipality of the District of Digby for work on the Investment Readiness Project.

And finally the organization’s largest award of the year for creating significant change, the IMPACT Award, was granted for to the Athens Economic Development Corporation for the work on the Freeport Tax Exemption project.

BREI 2018 Officers

BREI welcomes several new officers to its board of directors for the 2018-19 year.

Teresa Evans BREP, moves into the lead role as president of BREI, replacing John Bennette, BREC. John will move into the Past-President role. Teresa is the Economic Development Coordinator at City of Blue Springs and has a specialty in Nonprofit Organization Management. Teresa has been a long-time member of BREI and holds an impressive list of experiences in the Business Retention and Expansion field.

Angela Groenveld, BREC, a Business Coach & Consultant in Alberta Canada, will be moving into the position of President Elect. With certifications including BREC, BIA and CED, Angela retains years of experience and practice within the realm of business including, but not limited to, the title of business owner for over twenty-five years.

David Bossemeyer, BREP will be coming back onto the board as a member at large. David is an Economic Development Director at the West Plains Economic Development Council with more than 30 years of experience in the business retention and expansion. Bossemeyer is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute in Norman, Oklahoma, and Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas.

Kelly Kinsey Overby will also be ascending into the role of board member at large. Kelly earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from LeTourneau University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Texas at Tyler. She is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute. Kelly serves as a Business Retention & Expansion Director for the Longview Economic Development Corporation.