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Ohio Economic Development Institute graduates first group of certified economic developers

Alexis Eichelberger
November 19, 2018

The Ohio Economic Development Institute, a continuing education program for experienced economic developers, has graduated its first seven participants. Another 16 will complete the program in six months.

The program offers hands-on, practical training in economic development to career professionals with at least three years of experience in the field. The institute is facilitated through a partnership between the Ohio Economic Development Association, the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, and JobsOhio. Launched in 2016, it is the first state-level economic development certification program in Ohio.

As the program’s education partner, the Voinovich School helped to develop the certification courses and curriculum, and approve and supervise capstone projects. Each core course was an intensive, two-day program that immersed participants in hands-on methods of learning. 

“What makes our program unique is that we provide practical, grounded, experiential learning for our economic development practitioners,” Dr. Jason Jolley, Voinovich School associate professor of rural economic development and MPA Director, said. “They’re not just getting a piece of paper saying they completed a series of classes. They’re learning a set of skills and applying those skills to the production of something that is needed in their community to advance their economic development agenda.”

The seven graduates attended lectures, participated in small group activities, examined case studies and more as part of the certification process. Each graduate completed a series of electives in addition to four core courses: real estate development, site selection and site development, finance and incentives, and retention and expansion. Finally, each participant used their new knowledge in a required capstone project that benefitted their communities.

“This partnership demonstrates that the Voinovich School is the state leader in educating in the area of economic development practice,” he said. “Our value is not that we are discussing theories of economic development, but offering grounded, practical applications that make a difference in people’s professional lives.”

Mark Barbash, OEDA’s professional development chair, said the institute is looking forward to certifying many more economic developers in years to come.

“We have been very pleased with the participation in both the OEDI courses as well as with the capstone course,” he said