money_planterEconomic Gardening is the philosophy that small, local companies are the source of jobs and wealth and that the job of economic developers should be to create nurturing environments for these companies; it is building the economy from the inside out, relying primarily on entrepreneurs; a community’s intention to grow their own jobs through entrepreneurial activity instead of recruiting them. What this means is “economic gardening” is a better approach than “economic hunting.”

According to the US Small Business Association (SBA), small businesses have created 60-80% of net new jobs since the 1990’s and employ approximately half of U.S. workers, which is at the heart of economic gardening. They produced three-fourths of the economy’s new jobs between 1990 and 1995, an even larger contribution to employment growth than they made in the 1980s. Since the 1970’s small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and 66% of all net new jobs.

Small businesses are a continuing source of energy for the American economy. They are the nation’s primary engine for creating jobs. In the last 15 years, they have been responsible for two out of every three net new jobs across the country. Since 1990, as big business eliminated 4 million jobs, small businesses added 8 million new jobs according to the SBA.

Research by David Birch at MITindicated that the great majority of all new jobs in any local economy were produced by the small, local businesses of the community. The recruiting coups would draw major newspaper headlines but, they were a minor part (often less than five percent) of job creation in most local economies. The benefit of Economic Gardening is a slower, stable growth pattern.

The concept of Economic Gardening originated in Littleton, Colorado in the late 80’s. Since that time, the nation has been watching Littleton and measuring thier program’s success, noting that they have completely revitalized thier local economy and have become a model for economic development around the globe.


The East Lyme GIS Economic Gardening puttingthepiecestogetherProgram exists to improve the necessary interaction between business and government for perfecting markets through better communication and effectively competing for economic resources in a highly competitive environment.

Further,the GIS Economic Gardenin Programis designed to promote business development that creates sustainable wage jobs, expands the non-residential tax base, and provide additional services desired by the people of East Lyme in an atmosphere of smart growth and preservation of East Lyme’s unique community character.


Working in cooperation with the First Selectman, town boards, commissions and agencies, the East Lyme GIS Economic Gardening and DevelopmentCenter will achieve its vision for economic growth in these ways:

  • Assist entrepreneurs in starting a business and aid existing East Lyme companies grow their business;
  • Ensure the economic health of the community by empowering entrepreneurs to create good-paying jobs by providing advanced, corporate level tools for any East Lyme businesses. The intent is to provide market research, competitor intelligence, industry trends, marketing lists, strategy development, web optimization and customized research for any business within East Lyme at little or no cost through the use of GIS.
  • Promote East Lyme to out-of-town businesses looking to relocate, and;
  • Provide the general public information about local business.

The concept is designed to leverage a collaborative group of private, public and academic resources to provide these services in support of Connecticut business development initiatives, realizing that sustaining a robust and vibrant local economy is largely dependent on job growth and an ability to compete in the global market environment.

The East Lyme GIS Economic Gardening Program now hosts a powerful set of tools that local businesses can use to help their small business grow and succeed. The information contained within this set of tools is current, up-to-date information of numerous resources available to businesses, as well as a comprehensive one-stop-shop of business formation regulation information.Please call or visit our Planning departmentformore details.

East Lyme Planning Department is located at the East Lyme Town Hall, 108 Pennsylvania Ave., Niantic, CT 06357 Phone for the Land Use Dept. 860-691-4114.