Four Bossier Chamber representatives recently took part in Community Development Institute – Central (CDI) at the University of Central Arkansas.
Jessica Hemingway, PCED, Vice President of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, and Charley Kingery, Bossier Chamber Board Member and Sr. Business Development Manager at Weiland Corporation, recently completed the Advanced Year class.
Bossier Chamber Finance Chairman Jonathan Reynolds, Chief Commercial Officer at Carter Credit Union, completed Year One. Bossier Chamber President/CEO Lisa Johnson served as a class director, guiding Year Three participants. Hemingway, Kingery and Reynolds received a scholarship from AEP SWEPCO to attend the program.
The Advanced Year class that Hemingway and Kingery attended focused on application of community and economic development principles in a real-world setting.
“It was an amazing experience to get to dive right into working directly with a community, putting all of the training we have learned in the past three years to work for the betterment of a community,” said Hemingway. “It really helped solidify that the knowledge and experiences we have gained through CDI can directly impact a city, town, or region. But the biggest lesson we learned – and have been told throughout the coursework – is that the community has to get involved for any community development project to be successful. And we sought community investment from our first visit to our town and throughout the process.”
CDI trains community leaders and economic development professionals on how to strengthen their local economies and build communities. This is achieved by developing the ability of participants to identify community assets, set goals, encourage collaboration and partnerships with stakeholders, and bring communities, organizations and businesses together to respond to a broad range of economic and quality of life issues.
The complete institute experience is a three-year program, with one week of training per year. Participants move through the program curriculum in cohorts, and are exposed to a comprehensive, applied approach to the field of community and economic development. After completing three years, attendees can sit for the Professional Community and Economic Developer exam, which Hemingway passed in 2021 to earn the designation. She is one of only 4 PCED holders in the state of Louisiana.
UCA is the birthplace for the Community Development Institute, which started in 1987 in partnership with Entergy, Southwestern Bell, and ARKLA. Since that time, CDIs have been established in Texas, Alabama, Idaho and Illinois, and a national governing and certification body, the Community Development Council, has been created.