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University of Central Arkansas
Project Title:Community Development Institute (CDI) CentralInstitution Name:University of Central Arkansas Innovation Category:Economic and Workforce Development Project Director:Kelly Lyon, DirectorContact Information:501-269-8951, klyon@uca.eduWebsite:
Project Description:UCA established the first community development institute in 1987 and has since trained over 3,000 community and economic developers from the state and region.

1.     Provide best practices education and training in community and economic development for practitioners (chamber of commerce directors, local elected officials, planning and development district staff).

2.     Create physical and virtual opportunities for networking and sharing successful applications of best practices       

3.     Provide direct assistance to selected communities for participants to apply the content taught at CDI Central and to strengthen the community.


1.     Outcomes are demonstrated through the development of a series of CDI Central participant profiles documenting how the participant is applying CDI content to improve her or his community.  Profiles are distributed through the CDI Central network and posted on the website.


2.     Future qualitative assessment includes development of a series of community case studies, to include the communities for which CDI Central have conducted community assessments:  Lake Providence, LA; Morrilton, AR and Clinton, AR

Challenges/Problems Encountered:With 24 successful institutes, the program has become fully institutionalized into the university’s outreach activities.  The challenges that remain are continually refining the service delivery model and assuring the same level of quality across the other community development institutes under the Community Development Council.  In 2009, a mechanism for ongoing process improvement was implemented with a partner, the Little Rock Branch of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.  The annual “Innovation Luncheon” provides a structured time and focus for looking at the next year’s offerings.  All of the CDIs (Arkansas, Texas, Illinois, Idaho, and West Virginia) maintain the majority of standard curriculum for the purposes of consistency, expansion and scalability.
Evaluation Approach:1. CDI Central staff conducts content evaluations and only use state and regional community and economic development professionals with the highest course evaluations in order to maintain a high level of quality, fresh approaches to content and increase retention rates. CDI Central is seeing an upward trend in retention since 2008.

2. CDI Central staff works with third party partners to evaluate and plan new elective content. In 2009, the new director established a partnership with the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank’s community development staff located in Little Rock to develop and create a permanent framework for continual process innovation. This was recently recognized with an award from the University Continuing Education Association
Potential for Replication:The Community Development Institute model has been successfully replicated since the first one was founded at UCA in 1987.  Since that time, four others have been established across the nation.  The CDIs are now connected through the Community Development Council, which administers the Professional Community Economic Developer certification.
Additional Resources:Community Development Council - The first CDI was started at the University of Central Arkansas and it remains the flagship CDI.  Since that time CDIs have been established in five other states.  www.cdcouncil.com 
CEO-to-CEO Contact:Allen Meadors , President
Date Published: Sunday, March 20, 2011