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.

Last week, the second week of May, was Economic Development Week.

Those outside the profession may not have heard of it because it’s only a few years old. But the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) calls Economic Development Week a “global celebration of the economic development profession and professionals.”

A former IEDC board chairman had the idea for the special observance in 2016. He realized that “economic development groups come in all shapes and sizes, from one-person shops to highly sophisticated organizations.” And he believed that local economic developers could be supported by raising awareness of what they do for their respective communities.

Hundreds of celebrations reportedly have been held in cities around the country since the week’s inception, although none have been noted in this area. Through a chance of scheduling, however, a member of the Economic Development Alliance’s staff was able to mark this year’s special week by boosting her economic development knowledge.

Nancy Lee McNew, the Alliance’s recently named vice president of economic development, was in Minneapolis, Minn., taking a pair of two-day elective courses that are among the requirements for those contemplating the lengthy preparation process for IEDC’s Certified Economic Developer exam.

McNew’s first course of the week, Economic Development Marketing and Attraction, detailed how to craft the community’s marketing message, including how to best utilize social media and web technologies. Also covered was site-selection fundamentals.

The following two days were spent in Economic Development Strategic Planning, described as “highly interactive” with participants working in small teams to understand consensus-building, quantitative techniques and setting benchmarks.

IEDC’s 2019 professional development catalog features a calendar of events listing something each month for economic developers at all levels—from online webinars to educational courses and conferences in several states.

McNew has been studying that list to determine what might be next for the remainder of the year—now that the courses taken during “global” Economic Development Week have been successfully completed.

But every week is Economic Development Week at the Alliance.