As America slowly re-emerges from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, there has been an intense focus on ways to create a firm foundation for future lasting economic growth. On the national, regional and community level, initiatives such as the retraining of workers, increasing access to higher education and financial incentives to private industry that provide employers encouragement to step up their hiring have been initiated to spur economic activity. This year, the longest-running economic community outreach program offered by University Outreach celebrates its 50th anniversary, while continuing to offer a range of training programs designed to further promote long term economic activity.
The University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute (EDI), created in 1962, will mark the milestone at its Spring 2012 Institute Session May 5-6 in Oklahoma City. Former directors and deans of EDI have been invited to a formal dinner on May 6 that will include the presentation of a video package highlighting the success of OU/EDI since its inception. Guests will also hear addresses by Outreach senior associate vice president for academic programs Richard Little and OU/EDI’s first female dean, Joy Pooler, who will recognize OU/EDI’s legacy as one of the premiere economic development programs in the nation.
The University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute is an executive development program that provides students training necessary to obtain credentialing as Certified Economic Developers by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). Accredited by IEDC, OU/EDI utilizes the economic expertise of both working economic developers and professors from educational institutions across the nation, graduating more than 4,000 economic developers from six nations across the world.
“‘Economic developers’ include many different types of community entrepreneurs who work to bring wealth and jobs to local and regional communities across the nation,” said Betty Kettman, program administrator for OU/EDI. “OU/EDI trains and certifies city planners, chamber of commerce executives, bankers and representatives of state organizations. Our students are very diverse.”
In the 50th year of OU/EDI, the program continues to offer diverse and intensive programs through an increasingly innovative variety of delivery formats. In addition to on-site educational offerings at locations including Wisconsin, California, and Mexico, OU/EDI provides high quality online economic development courses that enable students to learn at any time without the expense of travel to different sites.
One of EDI’s four online courses in key economic disciplines critical to the economic development of local and regional communities is Economic Development and Strategic Planning. An introductory survey of how to design an effective economic development strategy, the course teaches students to approach the economic development of a region or community by reflecting and addressing the socioeconomic orientation of the targeted area.
Additionally, OU/EDI’s online course in Entrepreneurial and Small Business Development Strategies educates students on the role and techniques of entrepreneurs in initiating and organizing the financing, technology and other means of production vital to economic activity. There is also OU/EDI’s course in Economic Development Marketing and Attraction, which explores market segmentation, cluster analysis, site selection and other techniques in marketing new business ventures.