Upper Arlington Community and Economic Development Manager Robert Lamb said 80 percent of new jobs in a community come from the expansion of existing businesses.

Upper Arlington Community and Economic Development Manager Robert Lamb said 80 percent of new jobs in a community come from the expansion of existing businesses.

"It's the No. 1 job-creator for any community," Lamb said. "So focusing on those businesses already here, finding ways to help, and building relationships is key."

In an April 19 presentation to the Upper Arlington Community Improvement Corp., Lamb outlined the city's retention and expansion program.

Plans this year include a series of interviews with what he called "target companies."

The goal, Lamb said, is to enhance Upper Arlington's relationship with the business community and its needs by establishing a plan to address those and to identify any "red-flag issues" that cause a company to shut down or move.

He said meetings will be set up starting in late May and early June. Interviews will likely be finished before the end of the year with a report on the findings complete by next spring, he added.

Approximately 47 firms have been identified as target companies, he said, including the Ohio Orthopedic Center, Arlington Bank, Wells Fargo Advisers, Whole Foods Market Group and St. Andrew Parish.

"We're open to adding new ones and changing around schedules," he said. "Let's build that bridge," Lamb said. "We want to know what it is they need to grow ... We're never going to be able to address every single issue, but we can work toward minimizing the ones that are there."

In addition to contacting the target companies and doing the interviews, he said other steps are necessary in order for the program to meet its goals. These include establishing a team of people from the city, the CIC, the UA Area Chamber of Commerce, TechColumbus and The Ohio State University to operate the program; analyzing and reviewing the data; and developing a plan to address the business community's needs.

"Existing businesses are ambassadors for industry recruitment," Lamb said. "It doesn't matter what I say anywhere near as much as it matters what a company in your similar industry says. If we have the support of the business community, then we can go out and better recruit new jobs."

The city's webpage for economic development is also in the process of being re-designed, Lamb said.

"We need a webpage that is user-friendly," he said.