Olathe Logo 1.svg


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.

Fill out the application here >

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.

Technical Assistance & Referrals

When you become part of the GrowOLATHE program, the GrowOLATHE team first analyzes your current business operations, discusses areas in which it may assist, and then provides data & reports that can potentially help your business’s growth.

Beyond providing information, the GrowOLATHE team also strives to assist your business by giving an outside perspective on potential issues & opportunities that may not be readily observable.

The goal of GrowOLATHE is to provide Olathe firms with information & services that are typically prohibitive due to cost or time involved.

GrowOLATHE hopes to keep Olathe firms focused on their core business while our team assists in the background by providing services such as the following:

  • Core Strategy Review
    GrowOLATHE can conduct a business strategy review & provide recommendations related to competitive threats, niche market approaches, and roll-out phasing.
  • Geographical Information Systems
    GrowOLATHE can provide geomarketing services and spatial intelligence solutions to help the business better understand current market conditions, customers, & its competitive environment.
  • Internet Marketing Strategy
    Through search engine optimization (SEO) & social media utilization (SMU), GrowOLATHE can examine a business’s online presence to help place them in front of more customers.
  • Business Intelligence Solutions
    GrowOLATHE can provide market research and competitive intelligence such as lists of potential customers & competitors to help increase sales activity, strengthen internal management, & help locate prospective new hires.
  • Referrals
    GrowOLATHE can provide introductions to assist in securing customers, contracts, & debt/equity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Economic Gardening?

Economic gardening embraces strategies aimed at helping local businesses grow.  The program focuses on entrepreneurship & innovation, while providing tools & research that are typically off-limits to smaller businesses.

What is GrowOLATHE?

GrowOLATHE is the city of Olathe’s economic gardening program.  Its goal is to stimulate investment in Olathe’s economy by providing technical assistance to the city’s expanding businesses.

Companies seeking to participate in the program will be evaluated based on the eligibility requirements provided below.

What is GrowOLATHE’s Eligibility Criteria?

To be considered as a participant in the GrowOLATHE Program, your company must meet the following minimum criteria at the time of selection:

  • Be a for-profit, privately held company; 
  • Maintained a principal place of business in Olathe for at least   the previous two years;
  • Employ at least 5, but not more than 100 employees;
  • Generate annual revenues greater than $500,000, but not more than $25 million; and, 
  • During three of the previous five years, have increased both gross revenues & number of full-time equivalent employees inOlathe.

What if my company doesn’t meet GrowOLATHE’s Eligibility Criteria?

If your company does not meet all of the above-listed eligibility criteria, you are still encouraged to complete the application to find out about programs and resources that may still be available to them.

What is the Application Process?

Step 1: Applicant will submit a completed GrowOLATHE candidate application.

Step 2: The application will be initially reviewed to determine if the above stated minimum eligibility requirements are met.

Step 3: The portion of the application regarding the Company Summary will be evaluated to determine final acceptance into the GrowOLATHE program. The GrowOLATHE team will ask the applicant additional questions during this process.

Step 4: Within 5 business days of completing Step 3, the applicant will be informed of acceptance into the GrowOLATHE program. Once accepted, a representative from GrowOLATHE will contact the company to advise them of next steps and to schedule a kickoff call.