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New UGA economic development certificate program draws a crowd


Georgia’s economic development professionals no longer have to travel out of state to become certified in economic development.

Thanks to the University of Georgia, that training is available right here.

“This is exactly what we’ve been needing,” said Illya Copeland, who leads the Joint Development Authority for Jeff Davis County. “There are so many communities out there that are underserved and budget-sensitive. This program is a lot more affordable than the other program that’s out there. And all the classes are in Georgia.”

Copeland was among those attending the first class in UGA’s new Georgia Certified Economic Developer program at Central Georgia Technical College in Macon. The new three-year curriculum, announced by UGA President Jere Morehead in January, is organized and taught by faculty members in the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a unit of Public Service and Outreach.

The March 2 class in Macon was full.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity for people either new getting into the field or folks that have several years of experience to be able to learn some new tools and put them in their toolbox,” said Matthew Colvin, a business development associate with Electric Cities of Georgia. “As a Georgia professional, there’s things about this course that you learn are very specific to this state that it might be hard to find in other areas.”

Jill Bowen, who works with the Development Authority of Peach County, was excited to be part of the launch class.

“Am I excited about it? Absolutely,” Bowen said. “That’s why I signed up for several other classes already. It’s going to give us an opportunity to participate in a certification process that’s specific to the industry but it’s not as cost-prohibitive as (other) programs.”

Writer: Christopher James 

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