GrowOLATHE | Leadership Olathe | Sustainability & Green Practices | Living in Olathe | Community Resources

About Economic Gardening

Economic gardening is an economic development model based on the concept that local businesses, rather than large corporations, drive economies.  Instead of focusing on recruitment, the economic gardening model seeks to create jobs by supporting existing companies in a community.

The goal of economic gardening is to connect entrepreneurs to resources, infrastructure, and information to ensure they are afforded the same opportunities to grow as large companies.

The concept is based on a 1979 article by MIT’s David Birch entitled “The Job Creation Process” in which he proposed that most new jobs in any local economy were produced by the smaller, local companies. Based on Birch’s research, Littleton, Colorado’s Chris Gibbons launched his citywide economic gardening program in 1987.  In the program’s first fifteen years, the city saw a 136% increase in new jobs.  Since 1989, the city has added 15,000 jobs without using incentives.  

Since the founding of the first economic gardening program, over 700 communities across the U.S. and around the world have contacted Littleton to discuss implementing similar programs. 

In 2009, Florida launched its own statewide program called GrowFL.  In its first year, GrowFL helped create approximately 1,500 jobs & contributed almost $300 million in economic impact.  In an interview earlier this year, Chris Gibbons referenced Florida’s program as the economic gardening program that others should emulate. 

GrowOLATHE endeavors to assist its local community as much as Littleton & Florida have assisted theirs by providing technical assistance including:

  • Capital referrals;
  • Database & data mining resources;
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS);
  • Labor referrals;
  • Temperament analysis;
  • Search engine optimization (SEO);
  • Social media network mapping; &
  • Innovation Strategy Analysis.