Economic Development Academy aimed at officials, business leaders

In April, ECU officials unveiled plans to create an academy that will offer economic development training and certifications to elected officials, business leaders and economic development staffers.

The program, which coincides with ECU’s Rural Prosperity Initiative, will partner with other North Carolina universities, community colleges and nonprofit organizations in equipping communities with the knowledge and skills needed to create jobs, recruit and retain businesses, boost wages and attract economic investment, according to Jay Golden, vice chancellor for research, economic development and engagement at ECU.

Golden, whose division is leading the Rural Prosperity Initiative, believes the academy programs not only could move the economic needle for North Carolina communities, but also serve as a replicable model for university-based economic transformation programs around the country.

ECU officials will organize expertise from other UNC system campuses and the N.C. Community College System to offer instruction around “place-based” economic development – custom strategies and solutions for the unique needs, assets and opportunities of a specific county, town or city. ECU tested the idea last year with leaders in Granville County.

ECU also intends to create a certification program for economic development professionals in the state, offering classes in legal, financial, ethical and other aspects of local economic development in a format that is practical and accessible.