Community business development refers to an organization or network that encourages the development or expansion of business within a localized area. Corporations, schools, and governmental branches often sponsor offices of community business development, in the interest of promoting economic opportunities in their region of concern. Depending on the parent organization, a community business development foundation may concentrate efforts on specific types of development, or increasing business ownership in minority populations. In addition to providing funding for new or expanding businesses, community development offices may also offer various educational and training resources.
The purpose of community business development is to increase the availability of jobs, raise business ownership rates, and stimulate the economy in a set geographical region. National government business development programs often target areas of their country where poverty is high or job and educational opportunities lag. Local programs run by city governments or local corporations may seek to stimulate their region's economy, regardless of its current size or wealth. By opening a community business development foundation, any community can play an important part in the future economic growth in their region.
Different organizations may choose to focus on specific types of business development. For instance, some community business development programs give priority to women or minority business owners, since the rate of business ownership in these populations is generally low. Others may seek to encourage specific types of businesses, such as green industrial businesses, in order to help provide their community with new companies that benefit the population. Most community development offices have clear, accessible policies listing their priorities and opportunities.
The general priority of most business development groups is to provide loans and grants to those planning to start a business or expand an existing company. Applicants may need to submit detailed packets of information about the plans for the business and the qualifications of the proposed owners. Some organizations may choose worthy plans by simply comparing applications, or choosing projects that best fulfill qualifying criteria, while others may use a competitive system that allows applicants to submit competing proposals for the use of available funds.
While the primary goal of many business development offices is often to provide funding to qualifying applicants, many also provide other services that may be of great benefit to the region. Some may offer job training classes, employment resource centers, and seminars or classes on business development and management. Taking part in these activities is not only a good way to increase business acumen, but also allows the participants to make contacts and build networks in the larger business community. By building a friendly network of business owners in the community, a development office can help stimulate further economic growth and cooperation.