Virginia Beach Economic Development Launches Economic Gardening Program

First three businesses selected to receive specialized services

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Virginia Beach Economic Development Authority has joined with the Hampton Roads Partnership to fund the Virginia Beach Economic Gardening Initiative. The program is part of a national effort to identify and provide services to high growth-potential companies.


Economic gardening is an economic development model that embraces the idea that entrepreneurs drive economies. The goal is to create jobs by connecting companies to resources that will develop essential infrastructure and provide research and support services to ensure continued growth.


Virginia Beach’s economic gardening program will provide local entrepreneurs access to competitive intelligence on markets, customers and competitors that is comparable to the resources customarily only available to large firms. Ten businesses will be selected each year to participate in the program.


The first three companies selected are Morphix Technologies Inc., Virginia Toy & Novelty Co. and Klett Consulting Group Inc. This program expands the city’s abilities to assist companies in each stage of its business life.


“This program is a very strategic addition to the services the city can provide our existing business community,” said Warren Harris, director of Economic Development. “We currently have a partnership with Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) to provide counseling to entrepreneurs and other small businesses two days each week out of our office. We also provide assistance on workforce development, location services and other services for the City’s business community. This new program is targeted specifically to existing high-growth potential firms that need specialized consulting to make it to the next level.”


The three companies selected will have access to a suite of high-end, high-speed technical assistance and business research tools, including evaluation and analysis of core strategy, industry/market dynamics, customer/marketing leads and advice on management team/leadership issues. 


Each company receives 35 hours of support from a national research team that includes a strategic marketing team leader, data analyst, geographic information systems specialist and a social media specialist. This is usually accomplished over a two- to four-week period. Follow-up support is provided by Innovate!HamptonRoads™, a program of the Hampton Roads Partnership in collaboration with nonprofit organizations and universities in the region. 


“We are very grateful for the opportunity to participate in Virginia Beach’s Economic Gardening Program,” said Mike Klett, systems engineer with Klett Consulting Group. “The City of Virginia Beach, alongside of the Hampton Roads Partnership provides small, budding companies with first class resources to cultivate their businesses. Klett Consulting Group has been involved with Virginia Beach’s SWaM program for many years and has previously benefitted from a Virginia Beach Economic Development grant, which alleviated the pressures of expansion as our company grew in 2011 and 2012. We are thankful for the hard work of the Economic Development Program.”


Virginia Beach’s Economic Gardening program will measure revenue growth and the number of jobs created through the program. The 2012-13 budget of $45,000 provides funds for ten companies to participate, and will be paid by the Virginia Beach Development Authority.


To be eligible, the company must be a for-profit, privately held company headquartered and operating in the City of Virginia Beach for at least two years, have between $600,000 and $50 million in annual revenue or working capital in place from investors or grants, employ at least five but no more than 100 full-time employees including the owner, demonstrate growth in either revenue or employees in two of the last five years, and provide products and/or services to regional and/or international markets. Retail and restaurants are not eligible.  Additional companies will be added to the program in February, March, May and June.  


Economic Gardening was pioneered in 1987 in Littleton, Colorado, when the state was in a recession. It is considered an alternative to traditional economic development practices of retention and recruitment, and is based on research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s David Birch, who suggested that most new jobs in any local economy were produced by the community’s local businesses. Since 1989, Littleton (population 41,000), has added 15,000 jobs, with no incentives.


The mission of the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development is to attract and retain national and international business and industry that results in the creation of new capital investment and jobs that increase the per capita income in the community. The City of Virginia Beach is the most populous city in the Commonwealth of Virginia with a population of 434,000 and is the 39th largest city in the United States. The City of Virginia Beach is recognized as the best run cities in America, by 24/7 Wall Street in 2012, and in 2011, Virginia Beach ranked number one for economic growth potential by Business Facilities. In 2012, the Department of Economic Development received re-accreditation through the International Economic Development Council, one of only 29 economic development organizations in the world to have this recognition. In 2011, the Department won an Award of Excellence for its marketing efforts from the International Economic Development Council. For more information, visit