Writer: Roger Nielsen
People in northwest Georgia’s Walker County are already benefitting from the Georgia Certified Economic Developer training that the head of the county’s development authority recently completed.
Larry Brooks, executive director of the Walker County Development Authority, recently became the first economic development professional to successfully complete the GCED curriculum that the Institute of Government established in collaboration with the Georgia Economic Developers Association. While still in class, Brooks used his training in financing economic development to address an infrastructure issue at an industrial park where an employer planned to locate.
“It was very timely,” Brooks said. “The Institute and GEDA really developed the practical side of the training so you really get the tools you need.”
Brooks was recognized at the GEDA annual conference Sept. 22 by association President Anna Chafin, Institute of Government Interim Director Stacy Jones, GCED manager and Institute faculty member Jennifer Nelson and Saralyn Stafford, GEDA’s professional development chair. Brooks said he found the courses—delivered by Nelson at locations throughout Georgia—especially rewarding.
“It’s been a great journey. The classes have a whole lot of meaning on the practical level. Jennifer’s done a wonderful job developing the curriculum, and I think anyone with an interest in economic development could benefit from the GCED program,” he said.
Introduced in 2016, GCED provides professional certification for economic developers who successfully complete Georgia-specific training. The curriculum includes 36 hours of core courses on critical topics like attracting and growing businesses, workforce development, and financing economic development and deal structuring. Participants also must complete 24 hours of specialized courses in industry knowledge and leadership development and a capstone portfolio project.
Economic developers attending the GEDA conference also had the opportunity to enroll in “Leading and Navigating Change,” a three-hour GCED specialty course with Nelson. In addition, the conference featured panel presentations with Institute of Government faculty on “Making Your School System a Partner in Economic Development” and “Your Role in Talent Development/Replicable Community Innovations.”