Another Successful Community Partner Roundtable

According to the dictionary, the definition of partner is one that is united or associated with another or others in an action or sphere of common interest.
The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama is privileged to have many partners that have a shared goal of facilitating economic development for the state.
Among our valued partners are those who are members of the local economic development organizations in their hometowns and are participants in our Community Partners program.

We recently held our annual spring Roundtable for our Community Partners, a bi-annual event spearheaded by EDPA’s Jennifer Braxton that allows us to provide the latest information on issues relevant to economic development and spur discussion on those topics.

Greg Knighton, EDPA’s vice president, summed up the significance of the Roundtable during the conclusion of the May 17 event, which was hosted by Southern Research Institute Engineering Center in Birmingham.
“The value of a small, informal group setting like this is being able to come together, give feedback and talk about initiatives that the broader economic development community as a whole is taking on,” Knighton told the attendees.
We are so thankful to our partners and presenters who turned out for the event; many of them drove great distances to be with us. We are grateful to Southern Research Institute Engineering Center for serving as the host site and providing a tour of the facility, which houses work being done on NASA spacecraft to super-secret Department of Defense projects.
Samuel N. Addy, director and research economist at the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research, was the Roundtable’s first presenter. Addy showcased the Alabama Online Economic Impact County Calculator. Sarah Horton, regional workforce initiatives coordinator for the Alabama Department of Post-Secondary Education, followed as our luncheon speaker, giving an overview of Alabama Career Ready Communities.
It’s great to hear the value of our Roundtable in the words of those who chose to take time out of their busy schedules to attend.
For example, Dr. John A. Johnson, founding executive director and principal advisor at the Monroeville/Monroe County Economic Development Authority, said that he always looks forward to the quarterly EDPA Roundtables, primarily as a networking opportunity with many of the most knowledgeable and proactive economic developers in Alabama.
“The Roundtable agendas address significant issues and share new projects often in their infancy allowing community partners to both learn about and to influence those projects,” Johnson noted in an email response.
Johnson added that the most recent Roundtable was held at the remarkable, impressive Southern Research Institute campus.
“Learning about their cutting edge projects and capabilities made you proud to have them in Alabama,” Johnson said. “Also, learning about Dr. Sam Addy’s new economic impact model and about the early thoughts on the Career Ready Communities concept made for a very stimulating day.”
Cotina W. Terry, executive director of the Randolph County Industrial Development, made the nearly two hours drive to attend. For Terry, the Roundtable is one of the “benefits that we have enjoyed as a Community Partner of EDPA.”
“As a small rural county, networking and learning from other communities is an essential part of our efforts in economic development,” Terry noted. “We only have a staff of one, so we are often dependent on EDPA, as well as the other members of the economic development community for answers to questions and information on experiences which we have had. The environment of the Roundtable allows for open dialogue about various topics, a time to ask questions, as well as the opportunity to learn about various resources which are available as we work toward improving the economic condition of Randolph County.”
Terry said she learned about resources available at Southern Research Institute, with many of the testing abilities and other offerings that would seem to be beneficial to discuss when speaking to Randolph County’s existing industries on opportunities to expand and test new products.
Terry noted that information from Dr. Addy was quite important because Randolph County does not have the financial resources to pay for financial impact studies each time there is consideration of a new prospect.
“The ability to get a snapshot of the implications of the investment of anew company or expansion of an existing industry is very important as we consider incentives, etc.,” Terry noted.
Additionally, Terry noted that information from Horton about the certifications that the state is looking at providing for Workforce Ready communities were quite interesting.
“The entire Roundtable experience was enjoyable for me,” she said. “It was a true opportunity to learn about additional resources and to interact with colleagues. I am sure that the economic impact analysis information will be used right away in our consideration of current projects.”
Started in 2010, our Community Partners Program allows us to work with the organizations on important initiatives such as strategic planning that mirrors the state’s strategic economic development plan; support existing industry in the communities; and provide economic development marketing support and services.
Our staff also is available on an ongoing basis to offer resources, support, counsel and other assistance in our partners’ efforts to attract, secure and retain jobs.
So providing the twice a year Roundtable is just another value add to this important program.
To learn more about our Community Partner Program, visit http://http://www.edpa.org/about-us/community-partners/