Click Selection

Search News Releases:

News Resources
on the Web

14 April 2008
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 underneath it.

“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 Texas.

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 mill.

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 CDI.

Community development is based on all parts working together for the greater good.

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: .

Note: JSU faculty, staff and students may access The Jacksonville News online through their affiliation with the University. Those not affiliated with JSU may have to subscribe to receive The Jacksonville News online. If you already subscribe to The Jacksonville News, you receive a complimentary online membership. This provides complete access to all the content and services of the site at no additional charge. Otherwise there is an online monthly charge for their online service. Contact The Jacksonville News for information.

Submit items for news releases by using the request form at