Larry Brooks put his economic development training to work before he even earned his Georgia Certified Economic Developer (GCED) certificate in September.

The Walker County Development Authority executive director was still taking classes when he secured financing for infrastructure improvements to an industrial park so that it could accommodate a new employer.

“It was very timely,” Brooks said. “The institute (of government at UGA) and the Georgia Economic Development Association (GEDA) really developed the practical side of the training so you get the tools you need.”

Brooks was recognized at the GEDA annual conference on Sept. 22 by Anna Chafin, GEDA president; Stacy Jones, interim director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government; Jennifer Nelson, who manages the GCED program at the Institute of Government; and Saralyn Stafford, GEDA’s professional development chair.

“It’s been a great journey,” Brooks said. “The classes have a whole lot of meaning on the practical level. I think anyone with an interest in economic development could benefit from the GCED program.”

Introduced in 2016, GCED provides professional certification for economic developers who successfully complete Georgia-specific training. The curriculum, developed by the Institute of Government and GEDA, 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, leadership development and a capstone portfolio project.