TEXARKANA, Texas., Dec. 8, 2020 – Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO)’s External Affairs Manager Jennifer Harland now has an economic development certification that equips her with new ideas to support business growth in Northeast Texas and Southwest Arkansas.
On Nov. 5, Harland graduated from the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute (OU EDI). The intensive 117-hour certificate program provides professional economic developers with up-to-date knowledge in today’s changing economic development world.
“It’s a very in-depth program that gave me the opportunity to network with other communities across the United States and Canada,” Harland said. “Those connections allowed me to learn best practices that can be implemented in the local communities we serve. This is just another tool in our toolbox to support economic development.”
SWEPCO takes pride in working with local, regional, and state economic development organizations to promote economic growth across its service territory. The company works with communities to prepare sites and buildings for potential businesses or industries by assisting with site certifications, geotechnical surveys, phase I environmental studies, marketing and more. In addition, SWEPCO provides scholarships for local chamber and economic development professionals to participate in training programs across Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.
“Having gone through the training, I was able to expand on my knowledge about business retention, marketing and attraction, real estate and workforce development. One thing that I think we have a real opportunity for is the development of a small business incubator or innovation hub,” she said. “We have a lot of talent and local entrepreneurs in our region that just need a place to seek guidance or to find a low rent space to start up a small business.”
The OU EDI experience is designed to immediately impact a participant’s professional career by providing comprehensive courses that align with International Economic Development Council manuals, as well as the latest trends in economic development. The classes primarily focus on business retention and expansion, real estate and credit analysis, but also touch on workforce development, marketing, strategic planning, entrepreneurship and managing economic development organizations.
“OU EDI is the premier organization dedicated to training economic development professionals,” said OU EDI Dean Mark James. “These graduates represent some of the finest economic development practitioners in the U.S. working to support their local communities. My congratulations to them.”
Established in 1962, OU EDI is fully accredited by the IEDC. Since its inception, it has certified more than 5,500 professionals.