The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm by Kenneth Gronbach

Matching BR+E to the Age Curve

Most communities are now operating business retention and expansion (BR+E) programs as a part of their economic development efforts. As productive as these efforts may be, they only allow us to paint a picture – to take a snapshot – of our businesses at a single point in time. Figuring out what comes next for our business communities remains a real challenge. Kenneth Gronbach’s 2008 book The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm is a strong tool for looking into this future. Published by the American Management Association under the Amacom label, The Age Curveis a kind of 21st Century Boom, Bust and Echo for the business community, highlighting North American demographic trends and the fundamental impact they’re having on markets, brands and business revenues. Matching Gronbach’s insights to local economic development trends raises key questions on the BR+E front for many of our communities.

Currently, for example, business ownership is dominated by the Baby Boom generation, who are fast nearing retirement. Generation X, the succeeding generation, is 11% smaller than the Baby Boom – which raises troubling issues about business succession planning and business retention for our communities. Gronbach doesn’t have all the solutions, but there’s a lot of useful information for economic development professionals in his work.