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Dozens Attend 41st Annual Basic Economic Development Course Offered through the Florida SBDC at USF

By Stacey Dadd

SBDC Class

TAMPA (November 13, 2017) -- The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida completed its 41st Annual Basic Economic Development Course last week, with some attendees coming from as far away as Wyoming and the Virgin Islands.

The four-day course, which qualifies as a professional development training requirement needed to take the Certified Economic Developer examination, is accredited by the International Economic Development Council and the American Planning Association.

Course administrator Lisa Bonilla said attendees were high-level industry executives, such as county administrators and executive directors, from across the nation. This year, the group consisted of 36 professionals with 31 based in Florida.

Here are some key profile indicators of this year's attendees:

  • 46 percent spend most of their professional time devoted to economic development work.
  • 88 percent were economic development staff practitioners.
  • 58 percent were between 21 and 40 years of age.
  • 57 percent had graduate degrees.

Lauren St. Martin, a marketing and communications manager with the Pasco Economic Development Council, enrolled because she was wanted to dig deeper into the different aspects of economic development.

"The BEDC will help me have more of a reference point when I am creating communications pieces," said St. Martin, who previously had worked in tourism. "As a marketing and communications person, it's imperative that I have knowledge of all the areas that fall under economic development."

The course was led by area economic development experts and covered topics that included business retention and expansion, strategic planning, marketing, economic-development finance and workforce development.

These expert-led classes were one reason Ben Friedman, business assistant specialist for Pinellas County Economic Development, attended.

"As a young professional, getting perspectives from and networking with experienced economic development practitioners was invaluable," he said. "The speakers were a fantastic way to meet leaders in the greater Tampa Bay area."

As a result of the course, he has "gained a better perspective on economic development as a discipline and gained an insight into best practices across the board," he said. "There was a really amazing cross pollination of ideas from the class and it was fantastic."