The Division of Economic and Workforce Development at The University of West Alabama
February 2020
Economic Development

Register now for the Alabama Summit on Rural Innovation and Entrepreneurship

This Summit promises to help community leaders and entrepreneurs to connect with resources to build stronger communities.

Johnnie Aycock, Senior Advisor for the Division of Economic and Workforce Development, adds:  "Building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in rural Alabama is one of the key elements in rebuilding and revitalizing rural communities. By bringing entrepreneurial talent, rural leaders, economic development professionals, policymakers, community development advocates and others together, the Summit can create synergy, momentum, collaboration and a entrepreneurial infrastructure for the future.  Small enterprises and entrepreneurs are still the backbone of a community's economy so it is essential we focus on building the economic ecosystem necessary for prosperity."

Join us for full day of networking, learning and resource building. Hear from Alabama entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their rural communities. Tap into the wealth of resources that will assist you to develop your idea into a successful business and grow your community into a place where innovative ideas take root and flourish. Learn from community leaders and organizations who are reaping the benefits and rebuilding their main streets by growing their entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Event registration cost is $25 per person.  For more details, call 1.833.UWAWORK.

Click here to register for the Summit.

Leadership Sumter class tours local businesses

Leadership Sumter Class at McElroy Truck Lines, Inc. in Cuba. Pictured (l-r) are Libba Baker, Anne Saelens, Angel Jowers, Susan Fox, Paige Guin, Kerri Giles, Jeffery Merida, Jordan Mahaffey, Jennifer Buroker, and Stewart Crawford.

Leadership Sumter took its fourth session on the road touring Chem Waste Management, Prystup Packaging Products, McElroy Truck Lines, and the Port of Epes Industrial Park.  This provided local leaders with the opportunity to learn about and see in more detail local business and industry and the economic and workforce development impact these businesses have in Sumter County and the region. 

"Leadership classes build a network of leaders who have learned about that their community together," said Director of Economic Development for UWA, Allison Brantley. "That shared experience helps them understand the experiences that each bring to the table when helping to solve the challenges that occur in any community."

Leadership Sumter participants will explore economic and workforce development at their next session on Feb. 20.
For more information on Leadership Sumter, contact Allison Brantley at or call (205) 652-3618.

Leadership Sumter participants tour Prystup Packaging Products, Inc. in Livingston.

Workforce Development
UWA CNA students tour DCH... 

Career Pathways for Youth Certified Nursing Assistant Program students visited DCH Hospital in Tuscaloosa on Monday, Feb. 3, with program d irector Jordan Mahaffey. The class learned about opportunities for Patient Care Assistants at the facility.  Pictured (l to r) are Shea Etheridge (Instructor), Franequa Porter, Jaur'Niyah Drish, Kenyetta Harris, Rodnesha Gulley, Brea Palmer, and Mary Alice Moore. 

For CNA program information, click here.
For automative technician information, click here

Community Outreach
Alabama Department of Archives and History hosts Certified Interpretive Guide workshop with Black Belt Museum

Black Belt Museum  educator, Brian Mast, spent a week in January in Montgomery facilitating a certified interpretive guide through the National Association for Interpretation.  The goal of th e  training is to harness the abilities of each individual to become the best educator possible for their institution .  Mast conducts this training  is done across the nation for organizations such as the National Park Service, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Colonial Williamsburg, Birmingham Zoo and at UWA.   Students who participated in the class were from ADAH and the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. 

The Certified Interpretive Guide program is designed for anyone who delivers or would like to present interpretive programs to the public.  Students who are pursuing degrees in Park and Recreation Management, History, Education, Archaeology,Biology and Communications benefit from learning how to take technical information then present it to any audience.  The training combines both the theoretical foundations of the profession with practical skills in delivering quality interpretive programming to visitors.  Course materials are covered over a 4-day period of classwork, lectures, interactive activities, and application of learned principles.

The 32-hour course includes:
  • history, definition and principles of interpretation
  • making your programs purposeful, enjoyable, relevant, organized and thematic
  • using tangible objects to connect audiences to intangible ideas and universal concepts in interpretive programs
  • presentation and communication skills
  • certification requirements (50-question literature review; program outline; 10-minute presentation)
  • all materials, workbook and CIG course textbook
Every year Masts hosts  at least one certified interpretive guide course in the southeast. Individuals from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Vermont have all attended his course. 

Are you interested in more information? Or attending a course yourself?  Reach out to Mast, at   or call him at 205-652-5528.

Show Your Support
Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area National designation support letter request 

Click here to read about the Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area National designation. 

Letters of support for the ABBHA National designation should be send to U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell's Legislative Director, Hillary Beard

Interested in being a Festival vendor? 
Click here to download a Festival vendor form.

Le arn How...

At this training, communities will learn how to find new solutions and uses for former industrial facilities in their downtowns or neighborhood commercial districts. The objective is to provide resources and solutions for towns struggling to find suitable uses for vacant industrial, former manufacturing and textile buildings, as well as potentially contaminated former gas stations and dry cleaners. 

We will hear from Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), the Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) and Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) during a panel discussion.

During the workshop, learn from real life experiences on adaptive reuse projects in Gadsden. Tripp Collins will discuss converting a former Sears and Roebuck Warehouse built in the 1940s into a brewery and taproom. Eric Wright, City of Gadsden, will discuss the renovation of a 70,000 sf former K-Mart building into a world class conference center, Venue at Coosa Landing, which is helping to draw waterfront retail and restaurants to the surrounding district.

There will be a 1-1/2 hour lunch break allowing participants time to visit nearby restaurants and explore Fort Payne's Main Street District. 

Click here to register for this event.

Why it matters...

Funding for Programs that Impact You, Your Family and Our Communities
Funding to Alabama for many important programs that affect health care, education, housing assistance, infrastructure development and more is tied in some form to census data. An accurate count will ensure that the state receives its fair share of funding for these important programs.  A recent study indicates that the U.S. government returned almost $1,600 to the state in 2015 for every Alabamian counted in the census.

To find out more about why the Census is important to you and all of Alabama, visit the following link 

To apply for a job with the US Census, click here.

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Center for the Study of the Black Belt
Black Belt Garden
Black Belt Archives
DEWD Partners
Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area
Alabama's Black Belt:
Where the Culture is as Rich as the Land. The Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area comprises 19 counties in central and western Alabama that are working together to attain designation as a National Heritage Area.
Visit them on Facebook here .
Mark Your Calendar

 UWA Certified Nursing Assistant 
program and Certified
 Automotive Technician program now 

Click here to 
download  the
 Certified Automotive Technician flyer.

Click here to download the Certified Nursing Assistant flyer.

ACT Work Ready Communities Report
Sumter County is a certified Work Ready Community with 93% of county goals completed. A complete report description is available at the link below. 

Click here to view the 
 ACT Work Ready Communities report.

ACT Workkeys 
ACT Workkeys Assessment Testing takes place every Friday. Upcoming 2020 dates include February 14, 21, and 28; and March 6,13 and 20. C ontact Director of Econ omic Developmen t Allison Brantley to register 
at  abrantley@uw   or call 205-652-3 618.

UWA Division of Economic and Workforce Development |