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CDI Core Curriculum

The complete program consists of three, one-week training sessions. In addition to learning from successful practitioners, CDI also offers valuable networking and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. Each CDI site offers the core curriculum courses listed below in addition to other course offerings based on site needs and demographics.

Year 1

Focus is on the foundations of community development and includes group simulations providing participants with a better understanding of the challenges and benefits of a community development approach.

  • Asset-Based Community Development
    In this session, participants learn the difference between an asset-based and need-based approach to development. A perspective that emphasizes assets, rather than deficiencies, creates more momentum for positive change. Participants become familiar with the different types of assets utilized in communities and learn techniques to identify assets in their own communities.
  • Community Development Assessments

    This session emphasizes the importance of undertaking a community assessment early in the development process, that is, prior to strategic planning. Participants learn the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) approach and how to gather both qualitative and quantitative information about their community. The session explains the need to conduct assessments, how they fit into the overall development process, and best practices in assessing communities. Examples of community assessments and their use.

  • Community and Economic Development Practice

    In this session, community development is defined as both a process and an outcome and the relationship between economic development and community development is explained.  The role of the community developer is discussed, especially as it affirms the core values of the discipline.  Finally, participants examine a case study in which they must consider which process is preferable for effective community development.

  • Community Visioning and Strategic Planning

    This session describes a powerful approach to harnessing change in a community; strategic visioning and planning. First, the difference between visioning and planning is defined and participants learn the steps to implementing a strategic visioning and planning process. Next, the role of the facilitator in the process is outlined. Examples of community visions, goals, and objectives are provided. Finally, participants learn of ways to move into implementation to ensure that the process leads to measurable outcomes.

  • Team Building

    In this session, participants experience team building through interactive exercises.  They learn about the different types of teams and gain an understanding of how effective teams are structured and operated.  Furthermore, they learn about collaborative techniques in working with larger groups and various ways to facilitate decision-making in groups.

Year 2

Emphasis is placed on the “nuts and bolts” of implementing economic development strategies, including business attraction, expansion and retention, and entrepreneurship. Overview of commercial and industrial development projects and group simulations are learning tools for this course.

  • Building Entrepreneurial Communities

    Entrepreneurship is strongly associated with economic growth. Discover what entrepreneurship is, what challenges start-ups face and how to attract and keep these innovators. This session includes an analysis of what characteristics exist in an entrepreneurial community. Participants will rate their own community’s level of entrepreneurship by assessing these same characteristics. The course will also provide tools communities can use to build extra capacity and to continue to build on that capacity.

  • Business Retention and Expansion
    This course covers the basic components of a successful BRE Program and why nurturing and supporting existing businesses is so critical to a community’s economic health.  Participants will also learn how to increase the competitiveness of local businesses, job creation strategies and cost effective approaches to economic development, including the role individual community members can play in supporting a BRE Program.
  • Business Site Selection Process
    Location factors are essential to attracting, retaining and expanding businesses, but what do companies look for in the site selection process?  Learn about the top site selection factors and discover the opportunities to enhance or build on these factors for your community.
  • Community and Economic Development Finance
    Creating a remarkable community with sustainable infrastructure and the ability to influence its growth takes fiscal management and insightful risk assessment strategies.  Learn to maintain full cost funding and budgeting for long-term succe
  • Understanding Community Economies
    How local economies function and grow is an important subject for everyone involved in community and economic development to understand. Knowledge of this topic makes for more informed decisions regarding improving the standard of living and quality of life for all citizens. Key concepts include job creation, the circular flow of income, employment multipliers and other important topics.

Year 3

Focus is on implementing the knowledge gained in previous years plus acquiring skills in leadership, marketing and organizing the community development effort.

  • Understanding Local Development Organizations

    Local development organizations represent the broader community.  Learn how the level of success of these organizations is based on their diversity, commitment and ability to collaborate with other organizations to accomplish their goals and objectives.

  • Marketing Your Community
    Community marketing is essential to successful economic development.  Learn economic development marketing principles and how to recruit new firms to your community.  Become familiar with the elements of a marketing plan including goals, objectives and strategic action steps, budget and resource requirements and the roles and responsibilities of participating organizations and stakeholders.
  • Measuring Progress
    Measuring progress in community and economic development shows local citizens how their efforts in moving the community forward are paying off. Demonstrating progress and celebrating good news encourages individuals and organizations in the community to work even harder and plan for the future more effectively. Learn about different categories of community indicators – social, political, economic, etc. – and various measures within each specific group. Learn also how to set up and monitor these community indicators.
  • Workforce Planning and Development
    Communities and states must focus on raising the skill levels of their resident workers or risk becoming non-competitive in the global economy or losing jobs to other states. This intensive program addresses one of the most significant challenges facing state and local government across America – workforce planning, development and management during an era of reduced budgets, growing expectations and escalating demand. The program introduces a comprehensive process that provides managers with a framework for making staffing decisions based on an organization’s mission, strategic plan, budgetary resources, and a set of desired workforce competencies.

CDI Advanced

The Advanced Year focuses on the application of community and economic development principles in a real-world setting. This multiple-day training is designed for individuals who have completed all three years of CDI, however, some institutes do allow attendance by non-CDI alumni working in the field who want to stay current with trends and best practices. Completion of Advanced CDI is recognized by the CDC for education requirements, training, work experience and eligibility criteria for re-certification.