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.

Alliance President Lou Ann Nisbett spent this past weekend in the warmer, sunnier climes of south Florida. She was attending the 2019 Leadership Summit of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), which was held in Ft. Lauderdale.

She actually arrived a bit early for the conference to serve in the capacity of an exam grader for those nervous economic development professionals from around the country who were signed up for the testing to earn their certified economic developer (CEcD) credentials.

The extremely difficult, three-phase test is composed of essay questions (short and long answer), multiple-choice questions, and an oral question-and-answer session.

Nisbett usually assists with grading essay answers but sometimes evaluates the oral presentations as part of a three-person panel or, this year, by serving as a proctor. She has provided this service for a number of years as a way of making some of the recertification points necessary for retention of her own CEcD certification that was earned 14 years ago.

Test-takers now answer the multiple-choice questions online, with answers machine-graded for faster calculations of passing scores. The essay and multiple-choice tests take a total of about six to seven hours to complete. And only those passing those two portions are eligible to proceed to the oral exam.

Unlike previous years, 2019 grading duties required Nisbett to review a “ream” of online information beforehand and watch a short training video. This was due to newly instituted changes in the grading system and the manner in which the sections were to be offered.

Final scores were available to test-takers by Sunday. Hopefully, there was a good group of happy — and relieved — economic developers now authorized to add “CEcD” after their names.