Economic development program certifies 16 professionals

East Carolina University’s Economic Development Academy certified its largest group with 16 members completing the program this year. The economic development certification provides those in the profession with a competitive advantage to boost their local economies.

The 16 newly certified economic developers were recognized at the annual North Carolina Economic Development Association conference in Wilmington. (Contributed photo)

The certification program is offered through a partnership between ECU’s Office of Innovation and Engagement and the North Carolina Economic Development Association (NCEDA). The program’s curriculum is designed to focus on challenges and opportunities specific to North Carolina communities.

“We are proud to be partners of the North Carolina Economic Development Association and to have a hand in training economic development professionals across the state,” said Dr. Sharon Paynter, ECU’s chief innovation and engagement officer. Those who gained their certificates will now be more prepared to go back to their communities to help lead and advance economic prosperity. When one community is successful in that, our region and our state also benefit.”

The 16 participants who achieved certification this year are:

  • Dylan Bowen, Columbus County Economic Development Commission
  • Kelly Bowers, Timmons Group
  • Anna Bridgeman, Stanly County Economic Development Commission
  • Trey Cash, NC Global TransPark Economic Development Region
  • Charla Duncan, Warren County
  • Craig Foucht, Wayne County Development Alliance, Inc.
  • Kate Gavenus, Town of Beech Mountain
  • Nate Groover, Town of Garner
  • Nathan Hester, City of Bessemer City
  • Melissa McGurk, Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina
  • ·Colleen Merays, Town of Apex
  • Blake Moyer, Surry County Economic Development Partnership
  • Susan Phelps, Nash County Economic Development
  • Brian Sciba, Gaston County
  • Susan Squires, Beaufort County Economic Development
  • Phillip Thompson, Chatham County Economic Development Corporation

The newly certified developers were recognized during the annual NCEDA conference on June 26 in Wilmington.

To earn the certification, recipients must take an initial UNC School of Government course, complete six courses at ECU and fulfill a capstone project. Courses included topics on data and analytics, innovation and entrepreneurship, retention and expansion, legal framework and attraction.

Economic development leaders interested in participating in the academy can register through ECU’s Continuing and Professional Education website.