Editor’s Note: “The Economic Development Side” originally appears in the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce’s weekly member e-newsletter. It is written by Rhonda Dishner, the Economic Development Alliance’s executive assistant.

Two staff members at the Economic Development Alliance (Alliance) have earned certificates for completing professional development courses recently.

Caleb McMahon, the Alliance’s director of economic development, completed the Mid-South Basic Economic Development Course (BEDC) in early April. The course is accredited by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). This year it was held at the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce at Little Rock.

Topics included Perspectives on Economic Development, Strategic Planning, Real Estate Development, Business Attraction, Community/Neighborhood Development and Financing Economic Development.

At the invitation of the course director, a session titled “Managing the Economic Development Organization” was presented by Lou Ann Nisbett (CEcD), president and CEO of the Alliance. That presentation included an overview of the Alliance, its “toolbox to increase prosperity” in Jefferson County, and its local partnerships in those efforts.

McMahon noted later that his boss’s presentation listed a good portion of the Alliance’s wide-ranging economic development activities. And, after talking with many of his classmates, he also said the talk by Nisbett reinforced his realization that Jefferson County is “pretty much on top of what it needs to be doing and, in many cases, is well ahead of the game.”

The four-day Arkansas basic course was sponsored by the newly merged Arkansas Economic Developers & Chamber Executives (AEDCE) membership organization. Similar sessions are offered in eleven other locations around the country. They serve as the equivalent of IEDC’s “introduction to economic development” and may be applied toward requirements to sit for the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) exam following completion of additional rigorous coursework offered by IEDC. McMahon plans to continue working toward CEcD certification.

According to AEDCE’s website, Mid-South BEDC is designed as “an intensive introduction to the fundamentals of economic development,” which gives attendees the tools to help their respective communities foster economic advancement. Participants include elected officials, government agency staff, utility personnel, real estate developers, chamber and economic development organization professionals, and educators.


Alliance staff member Nancy Lee McNew, who serves as director of the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce, passed her examination for Professional Community & Economic Developer (PCED) certification in late 2016 through the Community Development Council. Sitting for the exam followed three annual, week-long course sessions through the Community Development Institute at the University of Central Arkansas at Conway. McNew also completed the Mid-South Basic course in 2014.