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Inaugural Economic Development Academy graduates 129 municipal leaders

The Academy is designed to educate municipal officials and business leaders on economic development best practices.

Alabama Community College System

Nearly 130 municipal officials from across Alabama who committed time to studying how to strengthen economic development in their communities graduated from the inaugural Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) Economic Development Academy (EDA) on Tuesday, November 8. A ceremony celebrating their completion was held during the League’s Municipal Leadership Institute at Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach.

The inaugural class consists of 129 municipal officials from across the state of Alabama and 27 communities. Each graduate was presented a certificate of municipal economic development from the League and the Alabama Community College System (ACCS).

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the League’s EDA engages local leaders to help them better understand their critical role in the economic development process. The Academy is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials and designated community business leaders on best practices and strategies for successful economic and community development. Additionally, the Academy focuses on the role of elected officials regarding evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gaging the community’s expectations, workforce development as well as other key aspects of the development process.

The Academy took place over a full year and consisted of an orientation and four one-day sessions that include community assignments, which were completed across 16 of Alabama’s 24 community and technical colleges. To graduate, participants had to complete an economic vitality survey of their communities, complete a community assessment/project, and attend all sessions.

“The more partnerships that you can have in a community, the better you are because more people are involved with helping move the community forward, and there’s not often a better partner with as far of a reach as Alabama’s community colleges,” said Neil Wade, consultant to the League. Wade facilitated the Academy across the state.

“The EDA  wasn’t superficial. It started at the core of communities – its local leaders – and deeply investigated their economic vitality and their capacity to strengthen their economic DNA. They determined what they needed to learn more about and how to leverage the resources to get where they want to be. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had to watch local government at work in the academy to better their communities.”

Academy participants engaged with community college presidents across the state to learn more about how to collaborate on workforce and economic development in the future. 

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“Every single aspect of what we do as a community college system goes back to community – from the programs we create to the opportunities we build for every person in Alabama to be able to reach success through their local community college. The Economic Development Academy is an example of how working together with partners already within the community can yield great results,” said Jimmy H. Baker, Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System and commencement speaker for the graduation ceremonies. “I’m excited about what the future holds as the leaders in dozens of communities who participated in the Academy bring to life the projects they conceptualized during the training.” 

Bryan Parker, Director of Governmental Affairs for the League, stated that the EDA  was a vision of League Executive Director Greg Cochran to enhance the focus on economic development for the 464 municipalities the League represents. 

“We consistently ask our members what’s important to them, and most of the feedback we receive is focused on economic development. Through the EDA we created a team atmosphere for communities to focus in on the economic vitality, their strengths and weaknesses and how to use the resources in their communities, such as their community college, to garner maximum success,” Parker said. 

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the colleges on this project. It was great for municipalities to learn about all the colleges are doing in workforce and economic development.”  

Graduates of the inaugural Economic Development Academy, along with the municipalities they represent, are listed below: 

Region 1 

Mike Ashburn, Scottsboro 

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Richard Bailey, Scottsboro 

Nathan Lee, Scottsboro 

Roy Light, Scottsboro 

Jim McCamy, Scottsboro 

Matt LeDuke, Guin 

Mineo Lindsey, Guin 

Phil Segraves, Guin 

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Virginia Alexander, Hartselle 

Ken Doss, Hartselle 

Randy Garrison, Hartselle 

Jeremy Griffith, Hartselle 

Jeff Johnson, Hartselle 

Anita Bedwell, Rainbow City 

Clark Hopper, Rainbow City 

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Jeff Prince, Rainbow City 

Joe Taylor, Rainbow City 

Allie Allcorn, Oneonta 

Sherry Pierce, Oneonta 

Bekah Phillips, Oneonta 

Jerry Bartlett, City of Good Hope 

Christie Chamblee, City of Good Hope 

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Susan Eller, City of Good Hope 

Corey Harbison, City of Good Hope 

Eric Phillips, City of Good Hope 

Terry Shabel, City of Good Hope 

Brad Williams, Cullman Co Ed/
City of Good Hope 

Region 2 

Tiffany Bittner, Chelsea 

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Chris Grace, Chelsea 

Casey Morris, Chelsea 

Tony Picklesimer, Chelsea 

Scott Weygand, Chelsea 

Melody Whitten, Chelsea 

Jesse Matthews, Bessemer 

Donna Thigpen, Bessemer 

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Lisa Baker, Tarrant 

Veronica Freeman, Tarrant 

Buddy Aydelette, Center Point 

D.M. Collins, Center Point 

Ebonee Copeland, Center Point 

Bobby Scott, Center Point 

Glenn Williams, Center Point 

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Tonja Baldwin, City of Lipscomb 

Christine Burrell, City of Lipscomb 

Barbara Moore, City of Lipscomb 

Lakendria Poellnitz, City of Lipscomb 

Michelle Proctor, City of Lipscomb 

Vanessa Reed, City of Lipscomb 

Cindy Cuellar, Irondale 

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James Saucier, Irondale 

Aaron Sims, Irondale 

James Stewart Jr., Irondale 

Lisa Bright, Trussville 

Buddy Choat, Trussville 

June Mathews, Trussville 

Alan Taylor, Trussville 

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Kent Back, Gadsden 

David Hooks, Gadsden 

Kenneth Kirkland, Gadsden 

Kathy Murphy, Gadsden 

Deverick Williams, Gadsden 

Region 3 

Kim King, Columbiana 

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David Mitchell, Columbiana 

Ashley Phillips, Columbiana 

Charlene Tucker, Columbiana 

Danielle Wooten, Selma 

Clay Carmichael, Selma 

Lesia James, Selma 

Susan Youngblood, Selma 

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Billy Young, Selma 

James Perkins, Jr., Selma 

Sheryl Smedley, Selma 

Johnny Ford, Tuskegee 

Tony Haygood, Tuskegee 

Derrick Swanson, Tuskegee 

Liz Craig, Pike Road 

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Doug Fuhrman, Pike Road 

BoBo Giplin, Pike Road 

Rob Steindorff, Pike Road 

Gordon Stone, Pike Road 

Chris Myers, Pike Road 

Don Mack, Centerville 

Mike Nichols, Centerville 

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Mike Oakley, Centerville 

Woody Baird, Alexander City 

Scott Hardy, Alexander City 

Al Jones, Alexander City 

Romy Stamps, Alexander City 

Audrey “Buffy” Colvin, Alexander City 

Region 4 

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Charles Andrews, Monroeville 

Tameika Hunt, Monroeville 

Kenneth Ruffin, Monroeville 

Al Brewton, Monroeville 

Stanley Enfinger, Ozark 

Mark Blankenship, Ozark 

Leah Harlow, Ozark 

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Winston Jackson, Ozark 

Les Perault, Ozark 

Holle Smith, Ozark 

Sheldon Day, Thomasville 

Alexandria Huckabee, Thomasville 

Roy Madison, Thomasville 

Nathan Reid Smith, Thomasville 

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Rosalyn Sales, Thomasville 

Daniel Coleman, Geneva 

Kim Gillespie, Geneva 

David Hayes, Geneva 

Lisa Johnson, Geneva 

Ryan Tidwell, Geneva 

Jeff Gray, Geneva 

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Annie Latham, Coffeeville 

Jenny Pope, Coffeeville 

Bessie Thomas, Coffeeville 

Dwight Pugh, Coffeeville 

Becky Bracke, Opp 

Rick Clifton, Opp 

Lavaughn Hines, Opp 

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Charlotte Hunt, Opp 

Gary Strickland, Opp 

Tom Maddox, City of Elba 

Amy Giles, City of Elba 

G. Wise, City of Elba 

Laurie Chapman, Elba 

Hannah Pendleton, Elba 

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Jacob Pendleton, Elba 

William Cooper, Enterprise 

Scotty Johnson, Enterprise 

Greg Padgett, Enterprise 

Turner Townsend, Enterprise 

Jonathan Tullos, Enterprise 

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