The Program: Different By Design


The AEDL program has been serval years in the making. The level of experts and educators, couples with core classes that are taught in an immersive, experiential setting, make this the most advanced program of its kind. The program goal: to enhance and expand the skills base of today’s economic development professionals. This is the only program that is sponsored by four leading universities—The University of Alabama, Clemson, TCU, and Southern Mississippi—all working together to deliver the most dynamic, hands-on training program for economic developers.

Program Advantages

  • Alliance of four major institutions of higher learning
  • Experienced and expert faculty – site consultants, experienced EcD professionals, academic and subject experts
  • Dynamic curriculum designed to meet the challenges of competitive EcD
  • Innovative hands-on, collaborative teaching sessions
  • Smaller class size to ensure active learning (40 people per session)
  • Convenient two-week program—divided into separate weeks

Advanced Training For Tomorrow's Economic Developers

The four universities have spent the past four years researching, analyzing, strategizing, and developing a program specifically designed to meet the needs of a dynamic, fast-paced industry that is continually evolving. Our goal is to expand the skills of today’s leaders so that they will be fully prepared to meet the exciting challenges and opportunities of contemporary economic development.

-Neal Wade, University of Alabama

Featured Sessions

Site Consultants and Economic Developers: The New World Order

A Stimulating discussion on the effective working relationship amidst changes the evolving job creation world poses

Team Competition: Project Frog

A deep dive team project competition that simulates the real decision factors in site selection

Talent is Today’s Currency: “We’ve got Your Workforce. Prove It!”

In every survey, workforce is a key factor in job creation. This session examines the importance of the talent pipeline, the process for presenting accurate education data and the need for community economic development change agents

Communications, Thinking and Behavioral Lessons

An interactive forum to learn and discuss leaders’ strengths/weaknesses and individual class member traits compared to a norm definition

Leadership Lessons from “Good to Great”

Applied leadership lessons from Jim Collins’ book and their impact on excellence in economic development

Leadership in a Complex World: A Practical, Facilitated Discussion with subsection on “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”

Practical discussions on leadership in a complex economic development environment with subset discussions based on Patrick Lincioni’s book

The EDO: Yellow Cab or Lyft? How to Ensure an Agency on Eight Cylinders in Todays’ Competitive Climate

An examination of agency process that build strategies for excellence in operations, staff development, resources and successful job creation competition

RFP Autopsies: Lessons from the Cadavers

Ten Absolutes for better project responses

Project Financing Options: Outside the Box Thinking

The evolution of project responses includes new, creative ways to provide necessary incentives and financing options. This session explores traditional and out of the box best practices from some of the country’s complex projects

Strategic Planning: In the Bookshelf or in the Community?

There are more strategic plans on shelves than in implementation. How can a community craft a working economic development action plan that enhances opportunities for quality job creation?

The World is Indeed Flat: FDI & International Trade in this Complex, Changing World

From an industry standpoint, the world is interconnected. But, from a practical view, the lines are blurred as never before. This session examines foreign direct investment and international trade in a world that is indeed flat

Class Book Session: Thomas Friedman’s “Thank You for Being Late”

Technology and globalization are advancing at speeds we can barely comprehend. Rather than resist, how can economic developers embrace advanced technology/innovation and use them to create new jobs?

Changing Marketing Strategies: Thinking Five Years from Now

With social media and precise marketing, economic development marketing has changed in name and function. If you aren’t communicating to decision-makers and focused on economic development five to ten years from now, you are behind the curve

Moneyball Economic Development

Applied economic development lessons from the 2002 Oakland A’s that brought analytics into tradition-laden baseball to help a small budget franchise compete and win

Class Book Session: “What Everyone Wants” – a new, unpublished novel that weaves a fascinating story around advanced economic development data concepts

The author will facilitate a discussion about advanced data strategies and applications for every size community

The Incentives’ Debate

Actual debate and discussion on the role and need for local/state incentives led by the class and resident site consultants

Now That I Know This, SO WHAT? What’s Going to be Different?

The closing session wraps up the Advanced class with a spirited discussion about what happens next with the applied knowledge gained for the course. Knowledge is power only if it can be applied!)