Relationships that work

May 11, 2012 – Last Friday, we held our Community Partners (CP) Roundtable. A bi-annual event, this provides a chance to examine current economic development issues and is a forum for the exchange of ideas between our 21 Community Partners. 

The first presenter, David Thornell, President and CEO of C3 of Northwest Alabama Economic Development Alliance, presented on work that EDPA has done with his group to create a strategic plan based on the statewide strategic plan for economic development, Accelerate Alabama. This is a great case study for the EDPA Community Partner program, as it embodies all that we believed the CP program could  accomplish.

Our work with C3 has been to facilitate the creation of a plan centered around the three “R’s” of Accelerate Alabama – Recruitment, Retention, and Renewal. And C3 has a good start on that, with participation from K-12, the local two-year college, local mayors, and others. There is a planning “war room” and there is a workable strategic plan spread over a few pages, not volumes.

The C3 example is an interesting one: Three counties, Marion, Lamar and Fayette, combined resources in the fall of 2012 to create an economic development alliance to market the assets of the area. Within the three counties are 17 cities. And the area is the beneficiary of I-22, the new interstate highway linking Birmingham and Memphis. So the region is poised to capitalize on this important transportation route, which will bring new opportunities. And although the interstate runs through only Marion County, the region understands its broader benefit.

During the course of the day, we looked at a number of other issues, from workforce development best practices in south Alabama, to Amendment 772 and a look at the Legislature. But at the end of the day, Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield brought us back to where we started – the importance of collaboration and common goals for economic development in the state.

So, even though the “R’s” embodies different goals for C3 than it does for the state, this alignment of strategic plans gets everyone speaking the same language and looking in the same direction. And that’s a good thing.

To learn more about the CP program:

To learn more about Accelerate Alabama:

And for information on our Partner C3 of Northwest Alabama: