Dr. William A. Meehan:
JSU Proactive in Community Development
By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - The Jacksonville News
Through the Community Development Institute (CDI), Jacksonville
State University seeks to serve groups in the southeast United States, providing
them with the skills they need to effect change in their respective communities.
Whereas economic development is concerned with well-being through wealth,
community development is defined by a holistic or “whole-istic” focus.
When a community learns to develop itself as a whole, economic development
will come as a byproduct to this entity.
Accredited by the Community Development Council (CDC), the Alabama CDI is one
of six in the nation.
These institutes coordinate and implement an important community outreach
component: a program consisting of three one-week training sessions to train
community officials and leaders in modern leadership techniques.
JSU is offering its second training session Oct. 27-31 through the Department
of Continuing Education.
A non-exclusive event, training is open to anyone from Chamber of Commerce
members to elected officials to volunteers interested in the industrial,
economic or community development process.
In its Web site, the CDC notes as communities grow and expand our world
actually becomes smaller; global communications make this contrasting idea a
possible practice in our everyday lives.
Now more than ever there is mounting “pressure on communities to focus
globally and yet prepare locally,” states the CDC.
Director of the Alabama CDI and Head of JSU’s Political Science Department,
Dr. Lawson Veasey says, “Community development provides the underpinning for
economic development.” Dr. Veasey explains for a community to grow successfully,
community development must precede economic development.
To build a strong bridge, you must first build structural support to go
“Utilities and other private sector companies have recognized the importance
of strong communities to their bottom line and are devoting staff to the
practice of community development,” says Ray Laughter, vice chancellor of
external affairs, North Harris Montgomery Community College District, CDC in
Companies such as Alabama Power and Alagasco are some of the corporate
sponsors backing the Alabama Community Development Institute.
The Alabama CDI is currently working with several counties surrounding the
port in Mobile on a new $3.7 billion steel mill project being built by
ThyssenKrupp AG of Germany.
This kind of tremendous investment will create a large impact in every area
of the communities it surrounds. Between this project and another to build
refueling planes for the U.S. Airforce, this region is looking at 3,000-6,000
new permanent jobs.
The job of the Alabama CDI is to work with the city of Mobile to gain “a
unique perspective on the impact,” says Dr. Veasey.
He goes on to say the CDI will help the city strengthen this commercial
development to match the already booming tourism industry.
It is expected that nearly 30,000 workers will be needed to build the steel
The Alabama CDI is working on the effect this amount of people will have on
the city in terms of housing, recreational facilities, restaurants, education
and many other aspects.
One recent proposal came from a paper presented in a political science
graduate seminar at JSU. The plan outlines working with cruise lines to use
ships nearing out-of-service dates to dock at the port in Mobile as housing,
recreation and dining for steel mill workers.
This is just one example of the creative and modern thinking powering the
Community development is based on all parts working together for the greater
The Community Development Institute is an excellent part of what makes
Jacksonville State University a great and unified whole.
For more information on the CDI training session, contact Continuing
Education at -782-5918 or visit www.coned.jsu.ed.
Erin Chupp, a graduate assistant in the Office of Marketing and
Communications, contributed to this article.
About William A. Meehan
Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville
State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.
See story at The Jacksonville News's website: www.jaxnews.com
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