Economic Development Academy


ALM's Economic Development Academy was launched in 2021 and is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials on the essential elements and phases of economic development while highlighting their vital role in economic initiatives and projects within their communities.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the Academy engages elected officials from select cities and towns with municipal peers and colleagues from their region to prepare their communities for growth. Using a collaborative municipal team approach, participants attend an orientation session in the fall and then convene four times throughout the year to complete assignments and develop strategies to enhance economic development in their communities. Ultimately, each municipality selected is required to implement a community program/project and to report on its progress. Academy graduates are recognized during the ALM's annual Municipal Leadership Institute each fall with a certification via ACCS and ALM.

CMO Credit Hours:  Successful completion of the Economic Development Academy (orientation meeting, four (4) one-day sessions and graduation) are approved for a total of four (4) Basic, Advanced or Emeritus Credit Hours in the Certified Municipal Official Program.  Credit hours are awarded to elected officials on the municipal team upon completion of program requirements and graduation.  


$2,500 per community

For additional information about the Academy, contact Bryan Parker, ALM Director of Governmental Affairs, HERE.

Requirements of Selected Communities:

  • The mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two councilmembers must commit to participate. (Additional participants may include the city administrator/city clerk, community/business leader, etc. not to exceed a total of five individuals including the three municipal officials).
  • Participants must complete a community economic vitality survey.
  • Participants must attend:
    • orientation
    • all classroom sessions (4)
    • graduation at ALM's Municipal Leadership Institute
  • Implement an approved project/program and follow reporting requirements.
  • Pass resolution committing to the program (sample resolution provided HERE)

Please note, only municipal officials and municipal employees are eligible to receive a certificate from the Alabama Community College System. However, business leaders and regional economic developers are welcome to participate in the program.

Should My Community Apply:

While all communities are welcome to apply for the program, here are a few assets that will be evaluated in the application process:

  1. Leadership that is willing to engage in critical conversations about the state of their community
  2. Ability to work with K-12 education and local colleges and universities to advance the communities talent pipeline 
  3. Available or potential sites/buildings for attraction/expansion
  4. Understanding the community’s assets and creating jobs that best fit those assets through attraction, expansion, retention, entrepreneurship
  5. Ability to support and sustain growth
  6. Represented by an economic development professional OR open to representation
  7. An existing community business organization, chamber of commerce or retail association 
  8. Active social organizations (churches, community clubs, volunteer organizations)
  9. Willingness to collaborate with local and outside stakeholders

Application Process:

Below are several items to have on hand before beginning the application.

  • A committed team including the mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two councilmembers and their contact information
  • Three goals your municipality would like to achieve
  • If represented by an economic developer, his or her contact information

To apply for acceptance into the Economic Development Academy, click HERE.

Academy Resource Advisory Council:

The Advisory Council will provide advice, resources and guidance for the Academy's curriculum and approach. Several members of the council will participate in course curriculum training to broaden the understanding and involvement in the Academy's focus. It will also aid the Academy by:

  • Targeting communities through council member networks
  • Facilitating engagement opportunities with participants
  • Providing sponsorship opportunities

For more information about the Academy Resource Advisory Council, click HERE.

State and National Resources:

Please click HERE for a list of state and national resources that the League has complied that could be of assistance to your community.

Community Highlights and Successes: