Course Title: Working with Local Business

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Working with Local Business

Credit Points: 12

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


Hamilton Campus


365H Global Studies, Soc Sci & Plng


Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011

Course Coordinator: Brian Scantlebury

Course Coordinator Phone: 0418 239 651

Course Coordinator

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

The objective of this course is to provide students with the tools necessary for working with businesses to achieve community and regional economic development outcomes. The course broadly covers attracting new businesses to a region, working with start-up businesses, sustaining existing businesses and helping those businesses with the potential to grow to achieve their objectives.
The course complements a later course, which focuses on building community and regional capacity. This course is about the relationships between practitioners and individual businesses. Local economies are generally agreed to be powered by basic industries but also by innovation, creativity, risk taking and the entrepreneurship and dynamism of their businesses. Discovering and unlocking the innovation systems contained within the local economy is vital to economic development success, and much of the practitioner’s focus must be on working with businesses.
The course discusses the relative merits of “hunting” (attracting new businesses) versus “gardening” (working with existing businesses), and the strengths and limitations of each, but does not advocate for one strategy to the exclusion of all others. It provides professionals with the skills, information and practical tools for implementing effective strategies in all the areas of working with individual enterprises. The focus is on achieving investment and jobs outcomes for the community and ensuring that businesses receive the appropriate kind of support from councils, regional stakeholders and governments.
First, the course outlines key issues relating to the attraction of outside businesses to a region. Traditionally, economic development strategies have sought to attract new businesses and industry to the local area, to provide employment and wealth. While now derided in some areas as ineffective, business attraction is likely always to be part of a local economic development strategy. New industries bring indirect jobs and create the need for new support services. They also buy goods and services from local suppliers. They create new export opportunities and can underpin the wealth of the community. Practitioners need to know which industries to pursue and how to attract them, either drawing upon the region’s own asset base and/or outside (government) support.
Second, the course develops skills needed for working to ensure the viability of new start up businesses. Many new businesses fail in the initial period, yet new ideas and new businesses are crucial to the vitality of local economies. The course provides students with the knowledge required to be able to work effectively with start up businesses to offer they support they need to survive and prosper.
Third, the course covers the key skills needed to work with existing businesses. Retaining existing businesses which might potentially be lost to a region, and helping businesses to expand, are just as important as attracting new businesses. Identifying and addressing issues that threaten the viability of existing businesses is important to retaining these businesses.
The course also covers the critical knowledge required for expanding existing businesses. Growing the capacity of existing businesses, while more difficult and complex, is an important part of the strategy of growing jobs. Getting existing businesses to grow is a core part of the economic developer’s strategy, and the course helps equip students to be able to distinguish between businesses that are capable of growth and those that are not. Various Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) programs seek to do this and different models are assessed in the course.
The course focuses on the core skills and knowledge required to make attraction, retention and expansion strategies mutually reinforcing and effective. The course employs a case study approach, exploring best practice examples from Australia and overseas, including the best business retention and expansion programs and the emerging “economic gardening” approach. State and Commonwealth Government business assistance programs will be analysed, along with different approaches to attracting new businesses through incentives. The costs and benefits of incentives programs are assessed, and students are exposed to analyses of the impacts of business attraction programs.
Students are exposed in the course to core elements of business operations, for example business planning and finance, so as to ensure that they have an adequate grasp of how businesses operate, what their needs are and how they can best be assisted. The course covers the business assistance needs of different industries, for example in relation to infrastructure support.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

At the completion of the course, students will be more fully informed about the needs of businesses, well equipped to work with businesses to deliver community benefits, capable of providing necessary technical assistance to firms, and able better to assess the relative merits of different business support programs.

Course objectives include the following:
• To understand the place of working with business in the broader context of local and regional economic development;
• To master basic business models;
• To understand the needs of business in a local and regional economic development context;
• To develop approaches for attracting new businesses to a region;
• To understand the needs of start-up businesses for assistance;
• To understand the specific needs of different kinds of businesses, eg. Home based business;
• To understand the opportunities and dynamics of high growth businesses;
• To develop the capacity to discern and adapt best practice models of business development.
Hence the course provides students with the tools necessary for working with businesses to achieve community and regional economic development outcomes.

Overview of Learning Activities

Online (this is an internet delivered course)

Overview of Learning Resources

Materials will be available online

Overview of Assessment

There will be three components to the assessment for this course, comprising two written assignments and a mark for participation in online discussions. There is a choice of questions for the second assignment. There is no examination for this course.