Economic and Business Development

Economic Gardening

An entrepreneurial approach to economic development that provides strategic research and frameworks to help local companies scale up, adding jobs and wealth to the community. Team specialists use sophisticated corporate tools like database research, search engine optimization, geographic information systems and listening posts to find new markets, provide competitive intelligence and industry trends, assess digital marketing efforts and find qualified sales leads.


Economic Gardening differs from the types of business assistance that are traditionally offered by consultants. The Economic Gardening framework employs professional researchers who leverage sophisticated corporate databases, geographic information systems, search engine optimization (SEO) and Web marketing tools to help second-stage businesses create new strategies for growth.

Companies selected to participate in the Economic Gardening program receive more than 35 hours of strategic research and technical assistance by skilled professionals from Purdue University and partnering organizations in the following areas:

1. Market Research

  • Assess market trends
  • Identify potential competitors
  • Discover unknown resources

2. Geospatial Analysis

  • Map geographical areas for targeted marketing
  • Visualize competitors
  • Identify customers
  • Business-to-Business
  • Business-to-Customers

3. SEO and Social Media

  • Raise visibility in search engine results
  • Increase web traffic
  • Track online communications

Eligibility & Application

The Economic Gardening Program is targeted toward second-stage firms which demonstrate technological innovation. The Economic Gardening program defines second-stage companies as enterprises that:

  1. Represent a for-profit, privately held business;
  2. Employ at least 10 but not more than 100 people;
  3. Generate annual revenues of $750,000 to $50 million; and
  4. Maintain its principal place of business in Indiana for at least the previous two years.

Additionally, second-stage companies interested in participation must be referred by their local economic development organization or entrepreneur support application.


The Economic Gardening package can be provided at a flat fee of $4,200. This fee for services is generally found to be lower than a traditional consulting firm would be able to provide. It is encouraged that your company seek financial support from your local economic development organization.

  • Launch: Discovery Call
    Get acquainted with your assigned Economic Gardening team leader to share key information about the company’s history and goals
  • Strategize: Team Call
    Meet with the professional staff who will conduct the market research, SEO analysis, and GIS analysis and collaborate on identifying a strategy that will meet your company’s unique needs.
  • Learn: Check-In Call
    Discuss with the team leader what research has provided the most insights so far and decide on final steps for strategic research.
  • Implement: Close Out Call
    Identify a plan for applying the research across your company to sustain growth.
  • Review: Measure Results
    Touch base about your company’s progress after 3, 6, and 9 months. Continue the dialogue during an annual review for the first three years.


To apply, complete the secure online application here

PCRD Economic Gardening Team

Emily Del Real, Program Manager
Emily’s role in PCRD’s Economic Gardening is to connect eligible entities with the Purdue Economic Gardening team. Emily will work closely with local and regional economic development organizations to help them understand the program components, assist them in identifying eligible corporations in their community, county, or region. Emily will guide corporations through the application process and connect them with their team leader. Following a company’s economic gardening engagement, Emily will maintain communications with participating companies and offer continued Purdue support as key questions arise and the decision making process continues.

Heather Strohm, Team Leader
Heather is a team leader for the Purdue Extension Economic Gardening Team. Heather serves as the liaison between participating companies and the rest of the team. Heather has a tremendous amount of experience with economic development, small business owners, industrial sectors and strategic operations. Heather previously director the West Central Indiana Small Business Development Center but now serves as a regional community development educator assisting Indiana communities with economic and business development needs.

Julie Rigrish, Team Leader
Julie is a team leader for the PCRD Economic Gardening Team. Julie serves as the liaison between participating companies and the rest of the team. Julie has a vast amount of experience working with entrepreneurs and business leaders from a variety of industries. Before joining PCRD, Julie was the Southeast Regional Director for the Indiana Small Business Development Center, and was involved with management, business development, training and sales.

Indraneel Kumar, GIS Analyst
Indraneel contributions to the team are to perform geographic analysis of markets and assets including location analytics for businesses. He has a significant amount of experience in GIS and spatial analyses focusing on community and economic development.

Jan Knight, Market Research Analyst
Jan is a Business & Market Research specialist at Bancroft Information Services, LLC where she leverages the incredible market research to provide valuable data and analysis for participating companies. She has worked with hundreds of clients ranging from start-ups to larger private companies in almost every sector.

Erik Deckers, Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Analyst
Erik is an expert in social media and content marketing. He is an author with more than 1,400 published columns, articles and reviews and co-author of three books on using Social Media. Erik uses his skills and experiences to help participating companies harness the full power of search engine optimization and social media to grow their business.