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Utility-Driven Local Business Development:

A New Strategy for Energizing Customer Communities


Smaller, relatively remote, and less developed communities are facing problems as they struggle to compete economically with larger, more strategically located communities. The migration of business firms and people from these less fortunate communities result in vicious circles with less business activity and more unemployment. Utility organizations located in these regions are hard-hit, due to the large investments in facilities that must be maintained despite declining revenues. At the same time, their huge infrastructures also position them well to become key actors for developing community business to increase their sales and enjoy substantial competitive goodwill.

The purpose of this paper is to outline a strategy for utility firms to act as business development catalysts within their communities to strengthen the economic base of their communities, leverage existing infrastructure assets, and assure a secure revenue stream for the future.

The strategy consists of utilities establishing three main mechanisms: (1) Local Customer Networks where the community members state their marketing preferences to help themselves to get desired product information, at the same time as they help local businesses to increase their sales; (2) regional Business InterNetWorks where local businesses advertise their demands from and offerings to other businesses, potential entrepreneurs, and job applicants; and (3) a small entrepreneurial development unit with ambulating specialists that identify, convene, and team-build high-potential combinations of persons and existing businesses with complementary interests and resources.

The entire paper in PDF format.