Professionals Complete Georgia Certified Economic Developer Program

Austin Clark

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government recently celebrated 16 economic professionals on their completion of the Georgia Certified Economic Developer Program. 

These officials, who represent a variety of different communities from around the state, completed the 60 hours of coursework and final capstone project necessary to receive their certification in the past year. 

The Georgia Certified Economic Developer Program is one of the education programs offered through the Institute and was created in partnership with the Georgia Economic Developers Association. 

“This certification program is very accessible,” says Jennifer Nelson, the manager of the program. “Georgia has really evolved over the past 15 years and economic development plays a role in that.”

Courses to complete certification include economic development landscapes, attracting and growing businesses, workforce development, branding and marking strategies, and financing economic development. In addition to the required courses, participants can choose several elective topics to further study as they relate to their communities.

These courses presented the complete picture for participants. Jason Ford with the City of Hartwell said, “I feel this program was outstanding in every way. Specifically, in how comprehensive it is. I feel it is the best training I have received since moving into the economic development world.”

The final piece of the certification process is the capstone project which involves formatting and presenting course work from required and elective courses throughout the 3-year program.  

“The Georgia Certified Economic Developer Program is an excellent source of training for economic development professionals and non-professionals alike. The course work, training and industry specific lectures are valuable tools to build economic development leaders across our state. I am proud to have participated in the GCED program and look forward to utilizing the valuable information I learned to help grow Georgia’s economy and communities,” said Tony Ferguson with Georgia Power. 

Over the past year, the following professionals completed the Georgia Certified Economic Developer Program:

  • James Coughlin, Executive Director, Camden County Joint Development Authority

  • Kelly Daniell, Director of Economic Development, Southern Regional Technical College, Tifton 

  • Beth Eavenson, Region 5 Representative, GA Department of Community Affairs

  • Tony Ferguson, Safety and Health Director, Georgia Power

  • Jason Ford, Economic and Community Development Director and Zoning Administrator, City of Hartwell  

  • Mitch Griggs, Executive Director, Union County Development Authority 

  • Trisha Growe, President & CEO, Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce

  • Sam Henderson, Project Manager, Economic Development Division, Central Georgia Technical College

  • Kimberly Hobbs, Director, Community & Economic Development, Southern GA Regional Commission 

  • Elizabeth Jones, Administrative Assistant, Stephens County Development Authority

  • Rebecca Mincey, Executive Director, Development Authority of Lumpkin County

  • Molly Olson, Executive Director, Development Authority of Burke County

  • Keri Orvin, Baxley-Appling Chamber of Commerce & Development Authority of Appling County

  • Maggie Reenstra, Community & Economic Development, Coweta-Fayette EMC

  • Travis Stegall, Economic and Community Development Director, City of Brunswick 

  • Gina Webb, Region 10 Representative, GA Department of Community Affairs

For more information about this certificate program and the most recent certifications, visit: