Municipal leaders graduate from Economic Development Academy

Nearly 130 leaders make up the inaugural class

The city of Gadsden was among the 27 communities that had representatives graduate from the first Economic Development Academy.

Nearly 130 municipal officials in Alabama have graduated from the Alabama League of Municipalities’ Economic Development Academy.

The inaugural class included 129 officials from 27 communities.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System, the EDA is designed to educate and engage municipal officials on best practices and strategies for economic and community development. It also focuses on the role elected officials play in evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, marketing and assessing the community’s expectations, workforce development and more.

Graduates participated an orientation session followed by four one-day sessions over the course of a year. The assignments took place across 16 of Alabama’s 24 community and technical colleges. To graduate, participants had to complete an economic vitality survey of their communities, complete a community assessment project and attend all sessions.

“The EDA wasn’t superficial. It started at the core of communities — its local leaders — and deeply investigated their economic vitality and their capacity to strengthen their economic DNA. They determined what they needed to learn more about and how to leverage the resources to get where they want to be,” said Neal Wade, consultant to the League.

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Participants also engaged with community college presidents to learn more about collaborating on workforce and economic development.

“Every single aspect of what we do as a community college system goes back to community — from the programs we create to the opportunities we build for every person in Alabama to be able to reach success through their local community college,” said Jimmy Baker, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System. “I’m excited about what the future holds as the leaders in dozens of communities who participated in the Academy bring to life the projects they conceptualized during the training.”

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