Small Sacramento businesses can apply to take part in a program that offers help and up to $50,000 in matching grants to make it happen.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A common business development strategy involves cities trying to lure large companies to town, usually by dangling huge tax incentives. Sacramento is taking a different approach by trying to build up existing small businesses with a program called Economic Gardening 2.0.
“Economic gardening is a funny name, and a lot of folks, they think it’s one thing, and it’s something completely different,” says Kenny Sadler, managing partner of Berkeley Strategy Advisors.
Sadler, who is running the program in partnership with the city, says it’s not for startups. It’s for businesses with the city that have growth potential.
“Economic gardening is tending to the small crops in your backyard, and cultivating those and building those up,” he told ABC10. “The hard qualifications are $1 [million] to $50 million in annual revenue and between five and 99 employees.”
Businesses that are accepted into the program receive a consultation with experts, planning, and help with implementation. The goals are to help participating businesses grow their bottom line, help them spread their operations beyond Sacramento, and increase the city’s tax base along the way.
Mark Adams is the president of AHI Construction. He applied the first time the city offered the program and has been working with consultants, and several other participating business owners, for over a year.
“There may be something that you can’t identify because you’re busy doing the day-to-day,” he said. “When you’re working with people who see things differently, it adds a definite benefit.”
Adams gives the program high marks. “If I were to rate this one out of ten, definitely a ten.”
Sacramento State also is taking part. Interns from the university provide help to businesses while gaining experience. “I actually had an intern who worked with me for an entire semester, who built my entire website, and is still working with me to this day,” said Adams.
According to Sadler, that’s another goal of Economic Gardening. “You’ve got a pipeline being built for folks in Sacramento to stay in Sacramento and work for thriving Sacramento companies.”
There’s also a matching grant of up to $50,000 to help participants move their plans forward.
“Some folks have a maybe a $12,000 problem, or their problem isn’t necessarily financial. Maybe they’re going to buy some software or some sort of a solution, and it may cost $12,000. The city is saying, ‘We’ve got you on half of that,’” Sadler explained.
While the grant money is a definite plus, Adams says that what he’s learned has been the real payoff. “The fact that they’re offering the consulting aspect of it, which we all need, which is a very costly expense for any business, that’s probably more valuable to me than the $50,000.”
His advice to other business owners? “Look at every opportunity that is presented to you don’t turn away or look away from anything that the city is offering. Go out, especially in these times, and try and build relationships.”
The application deadline is April 22. For information about how to apply and qualify, visit Sacramento’s Economic Gardening 2.0 webpage.
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