A Curriculum that Trains
the Mind to Think

The partner universities have developed a core curriculum that specifically addresses the demands of our complex profession. AEDL relies on experienced faculty, industry practitioners, business leaders and the country’s foremost site consultants to present leading-edge strategies and techniques necessary to succeed in the evolving world of quality job creation.

Areas of Focus Include:

  • Sound leadership
  • Disruptive economic development
  • Innovation
  • Project management
  • Negotiation
  • Global challenges
  • Moneyball economic development
  • Communication/media training
  • Marketing in a social media world
  • Managing change
  • The broad execution of economic development
  • Lessons from Mega-projects
  • and more!

“A nicely structured, professional learning and networking experience to engage with like-minded economic development practitioners.”

Jay SchwedlerSumter, South Carolina Economic Development

“AEDL convenes some of the best economic development professionals from across the country to interact and learn from one another's knowledge and experience. AEDL not only equips its participants with meaningful tools to improve teamwork and working relationships but also zeros in on the critical issues that economic developers have to face in our daily work. After almost 20 years in the economic development sector, I found AEDL to be a motivating and refreshing experience!”

Jody Alan LassiterDaville-Boyle County EcD Partnership

“AEDL provides an interactive classroom learning experience from experts in economic development. Your classmates are seasoned professionals from many different community and regional settings who will share their experiences and techniques in solving some of our industry's challenging real-life situations. Networking is a valuable tool at AEDL as we learn that, even though we are from different settings, we commonly share many of the same issues and problems. Working on a team paired with different personality types teaches you to take every team member's opinion into consideration when working to solve the case study problems assigned to your team with a well-rounded answer. This is further enhanced in the open classroom setting when discussing potential answers to each case study.”

Roy BakerOpportunity Florida
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A Hands-On Learning Approach

Hands-on learning is the foundation of the Advanced Economic Development Leadership program with evolving economic and community development issues taught through an experiential, applied learning approach.

With limited lectures and no tests, AEDL immerses participants in a collaborative, team-centric approach that fosters learning through exploration, debate, exercises and team competition. The program attracts practitioners from across the U.S. bringing a wide range of thought, ideas and experiences to these sessions. Through this approach and the diversity of thought represented, participants often learn as much from interaction with fellow professionals as they do from faculty instruction.

“I had an incredibly beneficial experience going through AEDL. As someone who has been in the field for several years, it was great to review some legacy topics and learn new ones. I especially appreciated the media training and strategy discussions. I found it to be one of the more thought-provoking economic development programs.”

Subash Alias
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Program Topics

Effective Negotiation Strategies

Dr. Rita Kosnik, TCU

TCU’s Dr. Rita Kosnik leads a session on effective negotiation strategies that is based on her graduate course.  Even the most seasoned economic development practitioner will gain new insights on effective negotiations, with lasting impact that can affect a winning or losing approach to new project recruitment and existing industry expansions. 

Strategic Planning for Short, Mid and Long Term Economic Recovery

Dr. Shannon Campbell, USM

As Mike Tyson said, “everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the mouth.” As a nation and local communities, we’ve been punched in the mouth. The communities with a strategic economic development plan are scrambling to make appropriate revisions and those who did not have a plan are starting from scratch.  Dr. Shannon Campbell will facilitate discussions about effective strategic planning following the pandemic and the uncharted waters economic development organizations are beginning to navigate.   

Lead, Convene or Support – Just Don’t Sit on the Sidelines

David Rumbarger, President/CEO, Tupelo MS EcD Foundation

An examination of the necessary leadership traits to excel it the evolving world of quality job creation In an era like none other, effective leadership at all levels of a community is imperative. Economic development professionals must decide on each critical issue to either lead, convene or support.  Tupelo, MS Community Development Foundation CEO David Rumbarger has embraced community wide leadership for years and shares lessons and applications from those experiences in this evolving opportunity for local leadership. 

Managing Change in Turbulent Times

Gregg Fraley

In the recovery era, change is inevitable. We, as professional economic developers, must understand how to navigate the turbulence that impacts our community, organization and our families. Every economic development organization will be facing similar problem-solving challenges – only the names, locations and details will differ. National speaker and author Gregg Fraley lead a session on managing change in the Coronavirus aftermath, adapting his session on creativity, innovation & job creation to these uncertain times and unfolding circumstances. Among other key topics, Gregg will explore a creative problem-solving process as we navigate post-pandemic – how can we weather this unprecedented turbulence with new logic, new ideas, new approaches.

Restructuring the Traditional EcD Job Creation Model

Karl Kelly, Clemson University

Clemson University’s Karl Kelly has taught entrepreneurship, technology villages, innovation and the business model canvas for all AEDL classes.
With the economic development world turned upside down, Karl is completely reworking the traditional economic development model session to focus on a new leadership approach for economic development organizations. His session will lead directly into the break-out sessions for expanded debate and discussions.

Crisis Management for Economic Development Professionals

Whether it was Hurricane Michael or Katrina’s direct hit, a devastating tornado that leaves a region in ruins, an economic depression or a global pandemic, economic development professionals end up on the front lines of recovery. This session focuses on crisis management lessons from seasoned economic developers, government and business leaders.

Is Retail Real Economic Development?

Lacy Beasley, Retail Strategies

The retail closures and impact on countless lives will touch every community, but especially in rural areas that were struggling before the virus. The dramatic growth of on-line shopping during the national “shut-in” and its future impact is yet to be fully realized. Will it continue as the beginning of another revolution? Lacy Beasley, with the firm Retail Strategies, examines the linkage between traditional economic development and a retail focus. Lacy will dive into these questions in a give-and-take session – sure to have robust debate.

New Workforce Challenges – From 0 to 100 in 60 seconds: Talent is Still Today’s EcD Currency

Kate McEnroe

In late 2019, unemployment across the nation was approaching record low levels. In just six months, almost every corner of the U.S. was facing double digit unemployment. This unexpected challenge has put economic developers and workforce coordinators in key roles throughout their communities and regions. Kate McEnroe is known across the nation as one of the foremost site consultants and an expert on workforce pipeline development. She is especially focused on workforce during these unsettled times as she interacts with communities and clients across the country.

What We Have is a Failure to Communicate – Practical Lessons for the EcD Professional

Dr. Alexa Chilcutt, Dr. Adam Brooks and Ken Haseley

Communication in normal times is important, but during abnormal times it becomes a critical responsibility of leaders. One of the course highlights is the half-day Speaking Studio session. University of Alabama communication professors Drs. Alexa Chilcutt and Adam Brooks facilitate a session in which each class member gives a three-minute speech to the entire class on an assigned topic. This is a very upbeat session with positive comments designed to make presentations, speeches and public discourse as effective as possible. In a separate half-day session media communications expert Ken Haseley uses examples and class interviews to teach valuable media relations lessons that every EcD professional can apply to their communication arsenal.

Moneyball Economic Development – Data, Data and More Data

The 2002 Oakland A’s demonstrated that effective use of data can propel a last place team into first place. The book and movie Moneyball provide an excellent launching pad for a deep dive into economic development targeted marketing.

Practical Lessons from The Rainforest

The Ammerman Experience

Victor Hwang’s book provides the basis for a session that examines entrepreneurship at the local, regional and state levels. As the model for job creation evolves and the pandemic impact on existing jobs continues to affect talented and creative people, experts predict a surge in start-ups. Economic developers can make entrepreneurship a key leg in the job creation strategy.

The Buffalo Hunt

Alex Leath

Since the Fantus Location Service in the 1930s, recruiting new industrial investment has been a mainstay for both urban and rural communities. However, the model is evolving especially with mega-projects that present the opportunity to compete on a global stage. Alex Leath shares valuable lessons from his work with Volkswagen, Tesla and Amazon’s HQ2 projects.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – A New Chapter

Jim Roach and Dr. Bob Prescott

Teamwork is critical in business, sports and economic development. This session explores Patrick Lencioni’s best-selling book and its applications for successful economic development organizations. Class facilitators Jim Roach and Dr. Bob Prescott will teach the session from a new normal perspective brought on by the pandemic.

Lessons from the Rainforest

Victor Hwang

Victor Hwang, best-selling author, will lead the session on lessons for growing local entrepreneurs, the nature of innovative systems and the human networks that generate extraordinary creativity and output.