Today more communities are turning to entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy. And on the entrepreneurial continuum, second-stage companies stand out because of their contributions to job creation. Indeed, between 1995 and 2013 about 13 percent of U.S. companies were second-stagers; however, they represented 35 percent of all jobs and sales, according to YourEconomy.org. As these companies grow, they’re adding diverse, high-quality jobs, increasing the flow of tax dollars, and reinvesting in their communities in a variety of ways.

While there are plenty of programs for startups, when entrepreneurs enter second stage, relevant resources dry up. This is partly due to a lack of understanding about what second-stagers really need and how to work with them — something we’re trying to change. Unlike startups, second-stagers have proven products and services in place. They’re striving to expand into new markets, refine their business model and hone their competitive edge.

In addition to helping second-stagers with these strategic challenges, our retreats forge critical connections. Because second-stagers are so busy trying to grow their businesses, they don’t have time for traditional networking and educational events and feel isolated. Our retreats introduce entrepreneurs to other second-stagers. For many, this is the first time they feel they’re in a trusted environment and can talk openly about their businesses. It’s like discovering their long-lost tribe.