PPR Strategies


Guest Blog: My Journey to Becoming a Certified Economic Developer

This week’s blog post is a guest post by PPR Strategies’s Director of Operations, Sophie Smith. If you’re one of our clients, you will already know Sophie. Sophie is strategic, creative, and truly passionate about helping city and state economies reach their fullest potential. Today, she’s sharing her journey to becoming a Certified Economic Developer. 

Hello There! Sophie here.

Last Friday, I completed the Chesapeake Basic Economic Development Course held by the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA). In between the last-minute chaos of private messaging my fellow attendees (whom I’d grown close with over the past week) and sending/accepting LinkedIn connection requests, I paused and felt a huge wave of gratitude.

I had just spent the last week with 30 professionals from across the country, all working towards improving the economic wellbeing of our collective communities. Together, we brainstormed solutions to the latest workforce challenges, discussed robust business retention strategies, and tried helplessly to make heads and tails of economic development finance. We eagerly applied our freshly updated skills to a week-long case study project that had us out and about in our communities inspecting buildings with sanctimonious scrutiny. We had brushed shoulders (digitally, of course) with some of the most prominent economic development leaders in the mid-Atlantic. And we all came away feeling energized, motivated, and inspired.

Some of us attended to polish up on the ever-evolving best practices of economic development. A few of us attended because we were taking on the challenge of becoming IEDC (International Economic Development Council) Certified Economic Developers (gulp!). Although I started my certification journey earlier this past April by taking the IEDC Marketing and Attraction Course, it was clear that I was officially knee-deep in the process by the end of this week.

Thankfully, Sandy has been at my side the entire time. Sandy is one of the co-instructors of the Marketing & Attraction course and is the facilitator of the Chesapeake Basic Course. As my boss, and dare I say, mentor, it was amazing to see her firsthand in this element.

But we have now reached the point where she must kick me out of the proverbial nest, and next time I will be completely on my own. To complete the certification process, I must take three more compulsory core courses and one more elective course. Then, I sit for a three-part exam comprised of a multiple-choice test, an essay, and an oral interview (double gulp!).

So! If any of you have gone through the certification process yourself or have even considered it, I would love all the advice I could get! Leave a comment below and share with me!

All My Best,

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