The Division of Economic Development and Outreach at The University of West Alabama
Winter 2019
Governor Ivey to speak at 2019 Alabama Summit on Rural Technology, registration open

Join us at the University of West Alabama in Livingston for the 2nd Annual Alabama Summit on Rural Technology, presented by AT&T and UWA. The event features an exceptional group of experts who will help us understand in a practical, applicable way how to build an enhanced technology infrastructure in rural Alabama. 

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey will speak and presenters will include: Dr. Roberto Gallardo of Purdue University's Center for Regional Development; Mr. Kenneth Boswell, Director of ADECA; Mr. Scott Woods & Dr. Don Williams, both from the National Telecommunications & Information Agency & Broadband USA of the U. S. Department of Commerce. You will walk away with information and tactics you can actually apply. Event registration is $25 and includes lunch and refreshments.

Participants should bring tablets or laptops to participate in interative broadband planning session.

For questions, contact Division of Economic and Workforce Development at (205) 652-3828.

Click here to register.
Click here for event flyer.

Ben Wieseman to speak at 
Certified Local Government program, Feb. 26

Join the Demopolis CLG program, the Alabama Historical Commission and UWA's Division of Workforce and Economic Development as they take a closer look at CLGs as a tool for positive economic development.  This economic development training package consists of five sessions. Each session is a stand-alone event. 

The fourth session will feature Ben Wieseman on February 26, 2019 from 10:30 a.m.-noon at Land Hall in Livingston. He will discuss  Community Development and Historic Preservation in at Land Hall on the UWA campus.  

Wieseman serves as the Director of Catalytic Development for REV Birmingham. He has been a practicing Landscape Architect in the private sector, since 1999 and holds licenses and certification as a Landscape Architect, AICP certified with American Planning Association, LEED AP with USGBC, and a master's degree in Real Estate Development, from Auburn University.  He specializes in landscape architecture, urban design, comprehensive planning, master planning, site specific design and construction documentation, computer and graphic programs AutoCad, Illustrator and GIS. 

In addition, Wieseman has served as an adjunct professor for Auburn Urban Studio, and an instructor for Your Town Alabama, Design Alabama and the Mayors Design Summit. Weiseman enjoys working with communities to rethink how design impacts not only quality of life but positive, sustainable economic development. For this reason, he has served as the design professional for multiple charrettes Small Town Design Initiative and Mississippi Main Street in both Alabama and Mississippi communities.

To register or for more information, contact UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development Vice-President  Dr. Tina N. Jones at or call (205) 652-3833.

Click  here  to view the information flyer.

Register Now for the Alabama Preservation Conference
The 2019 Alabama Preservation Conference is being held in conjunction with the 72nd Alabama Historical Association's Annual Meeting in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in April.
The Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation, the Alabama Historical Commission, and the Black Heritage Council of the Alabama Historical Commission are  pleased to offer workshops and sessions on Thursday, April 25, that focus on historic preservation. Join us as we explore efforts to preserve Alabama's historic schools, many of which played pivotal roles in the earliest phases of the Civil Rights Movement; forgotten places; cemeteries and graveyards; Tuscaloosa's Civil Rights History Trail; and north Alabama's stunning space-age architecture. Learn more about the National Register of Historic Places process, Historic Tax Credit programs and their possible application to your project. 
The Alabama Historical Commission and the Black Heritage Council will present the Distinguished Service Award, Roy Swayze Award, and the Idella Childs Award at the Friday evening awards banquet. The Alabama Trust will also present the organization's Restoration, Rehabilitation, Preservation Service, and Gwyndolyn C. Turner Preservation Awards at the banquet.
To register, visit the following link: 

For more information or questions regarding registration or the event, contact Mark Wilson at  or call 334-844-6198.

Click here for event program.

Sucarnochee Folklife Festival celebrates Alabama Bicentennial and the Year of The Pig

The Sucarnochee Folklife Festival (SFF) celebrates fifteen years of the unique life ways of Alabama's Black Belt on Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sumter County Courthouse Square in downtown Livingston.

The festival slogan for this year, "Sucarnochee: Year of the Pig," unites two unique traditions- the celebration of all things BBQ in Alabama's Black Belt region and the The Chinese Zodiac, based on a twelve-year cycle with each year in that cycle related to an animal sign, 2019 is the pig.  The festival also includes plans to join all Alabamians in celebrating the 200th birthday of our great state, with 2019 the Year of Alabama Stories.

"We are proud to highlight the traditional roots of Alabama food this year in celebrating our love of BBQ throughout the Black Belt and the whole state," said  Vice-President  of Economic Development and Outreach Dr. Tina Naremore Jones. "We continue to celebrate food with our Blue Ribbon contests." said Jones. "The competition ties back to the original goal of the festival and why it began- as a way to teach people about traditions and customs of the Black Belt region and keep them alive for future generations." Blue Ribbon Contests for this year include the Cornbread Cook-off, canned goods and the Gone Hog Wild BBQ Fixins' category, such as potato salad, baked beans, stuffed eggs, coleslaw and BBQ sauce.

It's time for an Easter Bonnet Parade and the SFF's bonnet contest will be at 1:30 p.m. at the Bored Well on the Courthouse Square.  A Blue Ribbon awaits the best frilled hand-made entry.

A day of great music is in store for Festival attendees with a line-up of great local talent. Dr. Alan Brown will treat attendees to the annual Ghost Walk Tour and attendee's can enjoy Danny Buckalew's "Sucarnochee Live" stage show. The festival continues the Alabama Bicentennial celebration of the Year of Alabama Stories and the Black Belt Museum will host the University Charter School's Bicentennial School exhibit.  Additionally, the special "Sucarnochee Cancer Walk," a new event at the Festival, is sponsored by Diane's Hope and honors local cancer survivors.  It's a community event offered to those of all ages as music, food, storytelling, art, and much more are shared throughout the day.

Event sponsors include the University of West Alabama, UWA's Division of Economic Development and Outreach, Black Belt Museum, UWA Fine Arts Department, Alabama State Council on the Arts, Alabama Department of Tourism, City of Livingston,  Sumter County Commission, Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, Livingston Alive and Alpha Sigma Alpha.

For more information on the Sucarnochee Folklife Festival, please call (205) 652-3828 email 

UWA to host 2019 Career Exploration Summer resident camp
Career Exploration Summer Camp, Class of 2018

UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development will help Black Belt students explore career possibilities in a week long career exploration camp. There will be two sessions, June 16-21 (Camp One) and June 23-28 (Camp Two), for rising high school sophomore and junior students.

The residential program, held on the UWA campus, offers students the ability to explore career options and prepare for college through interactive and engaging hands-on activities, field trips and presentations. The CESC Program, sponsored by the Daniel Foundation, is open to students attending public and private secondary schools located in Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Pickens and Sumter Counties.

"Camp selection is competitive and space is limited," said Program Coordinator Sanquenetta Thompson. "Exposure to career opportunities is important in making long-term educational decisions. The CESC is an intense and structured learning opportunity for youth in Alabama's Black Belt region."

The curriculum offers students a thorough look into current and emerging career fields, highlights of the knowledge and skills needed for each career, essential information on projected employment- where the jobs are and will continue to grow, and steps that students can take now, while in high school, to prepare for the future. In addition, students will participate in standardized applicant test preparation courses, business etiquette, computer training, academic enhancement activities, field trips and hands-on projects.

Approximately 20 students from grades 10-11 will be accepted to participate in the 5-day summer program. Scholarships will include the following:
♦All program costs/room fees
♦Room and Board
♦Facility Usage
♦Travel (Field Trips)
♦Lab Fees

The CESC is a competitive selection process program limited to 10 male and 10 female students per camp from eligible counties. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Parents are encouraged to participate in the application process. Guidance counselors may identify applicants to the CESC Program and assist them with completing the forms. 

Click here to download a camp application.

UWA Certified Nursing Assistant program now accepting applications

  The Division of Economic Development and Outreach is accepting application for the March 2019 class.

Apply by February 27.

Participants who complete the program will be qualified to take the National Nurse Aide Assessment, which certifies individuals to work as nursing assistants in nursing homes, group homes, hospitals and other health care facilities. Participants in the program span Greene, Marengo, Sumter, and Choctaw counties.
In addition, participants take the ACT WorkKeys assessment to obtain National Career Readiness Certification as well as receive their CPR certification and training in essential job readiness skills such as communication and financial literacy.

"There is a demand for qualified CNAs in our region and the state of Alabama," said Dr. Tina Jones, Executive Director of UWA's Division of Economic Development and Outreach. "We are fortunate to be able to collaborate with UWA's Division of Nursing with this program. Their facilities combined with quality teaching will provide our participants with a great opportunity to receive hands-on instruction in a real-world environment."

Interested individuals should pick up an application and eligibility requirements at the Division of Economic Development and Outreach office located at the University of West Alabama, Kelly Land Hall, or go to  to download an application. To inquire by phone, call Jordan Mahaffey, CNA Youth program coordinator at (205) 652-3828 or email her at

WIOA CNA Youth Program receives increase in funding for current program year

CNA students practice
CPR compressions.
The WIOA Career Pathways for Youth: Certified Nursing Assistant Program's request for additional funding was approved on February 12 at the Region 3 Quarterly Workforce Summit, increasing total funds by nearly $36,000. The program will use the additional funding to address two of the most significant barriers to success for participants: transportation and childcare challenges. The funding will provide support services to participants that include weekly gas cards and support for childcare. All participants will now have the opportunity to sit for the Alabama National Nurse Aide Assessment and the ACT WorkKeys Assessment at least two times, helping ensure that more participants earn the credentials required to gain employment as Certified Nursing Assistants. 

Recent  UWA CNA Adult program graduates.

Click here to download a CNA application.

Leadership Sumter tours McElroy Truck Lines 

Leadership Sumter members at 
McElroy Truck Lines, Inc. 

Leadership Sumter, a community support program thorugh the Division of Economic and Workforce Development at The University of West Alabama, recently toured McElroy Truck Lines, Inc. in Cuba, Alabama .
It is the mission of Leadership Sumter to identify, educate and train potential and current leaders in Sumter County; to develop these leaders through an effective network and interchange of ideas; and to gain a better understanding of our economic, political and social conditions so that we progress by working together as a county. This is a special opportunity for participants to enhance their leadership skills and help the citizens of our community achieve shared goals through community and personal development.
For more information on Leadership Sumter, contact UWA's Director of Economic Development Allison Brantley at (205) 652-3618 or at .

Click here for tour pictures.

On the road with the Division of Economic and Workforce 
Development staff...

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Brian Mast, Public Historian for the Black Belt Museum, visited Ms. Alicia Seale's science class at Amelia Love Johnson High School.   The class sorted through stream matrix searching for, and identifying, Cretaceous shark tooth fossils from the Black Belt.  

The group found different types of shark teeth, but also worm tubes, shell pieces, fish teeth and other evidence from prehistoric oceans.   Each student took home a part of the Black Belt Region's history to share with their family.  

This program is part of the University of West Alabama's Rural Schools Initiative.  Schools interested in having an educator visit your classroom or schoo may contact Mast at .

James Lamb, 
Director of UWA's Black Belt Museum, gave an invited keynote lecture for the first Department of Geosciences Graduate Showcase at Mississippi State. The talk was about mosasaurs, with - at their request - minisections on sea level change and end Cretaceous dinosaur-killing asteroid impact.

Jones attends Alliance of National Heritage Area meeting in Washington

Jones, left, is pictured with Rolando Herts-Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, and Carrie Crawford-Muscle Shoals
Heritage Area.
Dr. Tina N. Jones, Vice-President of UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development, attended the Alliance of National Heritage Area meeting in Washington, D.C. Jones met with the offices of Alabama Senator Richard Shelby and Doug Jones, and Congresswoman Terri Sewell, to discuss the importance of Alabama's Black Belt Region being named a National Heritage Area.

A National Heritage Area is a site designated by United States and intended to encourage historic preservation of the area and an appreciation of the history and heritage of the site. There are currently 49 National Heritage Areas in the United States.

Jones poses with and Abraham Lincoln on
his 210th birthday.
National Heritage Areas are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large lived-in landscapes. Consequently, National Heritage Areas entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs and leverage economic development opportunities.

For more information, contact Dr. Tina Jones at

Visit the Black Belt Museum on Facebook at

8th Annual UWA Research Symposium Keynote Banquet on March 5, free event, register now

The University of West Alabama's 8th Annual Research Symposium (URS) will be held on March 5 at UWA's Bell Conference Center  This event is a chance for undergraduate and graduate students to share information about their projects with fellow students, faculty and the community. Also, it is a good time to celebrate the diversity of student research and creative activities. 

The URS provides a forum for students, faculty, and the community to discuss progressive research topics and to examine the connection between research and education. The Symposium includes poster presentations by students from all academic disciplines in the University of West Alabama and other surrounding universities. Students involved in research are encouraged to apply and those not yet involved in research will discover that attending the symposium is a great way to learn about the broad range of opportunities available at UWA and other surrounding schools.

The URS includes poster presentations by students from all academic disciplines in the University of West Alabama and other surrounding universities.  All students involved in research are encouraged to apply and those not yet involved in research will discover that attending the symposium is a great way to learn about the broad range of opportunities available at UWA and other surrounding schools. 

In addition, the URS invites notable keynote speaker in the evening of the symposium, just before the award ceremony. We are very pleased that Dr. Jo Handelsman, Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is this year's speaker. Dr. Handelsman is well-known for her research on soil microbial communities. She is one of the pioneers of functional metagenomics, an approach to studying the functional diversity of unculturable bacteria in environmental samples.

For more information, contact Dr. Mustafa Morsey at or call (205) 652-5541.

A detailed event release is available by clicking here.

The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Click here to register for the event.
Click here for event flyer.

State of the  Community Breakfast held, Renaissance Plan introduced

The first "State of the Community Breakfast" was held on Thursday, January 31 at the Livingston Civic Center. Sponsored by the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce and UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development, the community was invited to hear reports from Sumter County Commission Chairman Marcus Campbell, City of Livingston Mayor Tom Tartt, City of York Mayor Gena Doggett Robbins, and Sumter County Chamber Board of Director Chair Mike Davis.

Attendee's were introduced to the county's "Renaissance Plan." 
The community based plan was created through local input from members of the Sumter County Leadership Academy. The Plan provides the foundation and framework for an economic renaissance in Sumter County that leads to job and population growth, new investment, renewed and sustained economic vitality, quality living for all citizens, and full participation in the global economy.

For more information, contact UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development Vice-President  Dr. Tina N. Jones at or call (205) 652-3833.

Click  here  to view the Renaissance Plan.

Register now for Your Town Alabama 

The 2019 Your Town Alabama Workshop will be held at Camp McDowell (Bethany Village) north of Jasper, on Wednesday, May 15, from 9:30 a.m. through noon on Friday, May, 17. 

Your Town Alabama is an annual 2.5 day leadership workshop for citizens, city managers, mayors, city council members, and anyone interested in well-designed and economically thriving cities and towns. The workshop provides leaders with a new skill set and knowledge that they can use in their efforts to improve their communities.
The first day includes lectures from state experts on identifying community assets and the role of planning to move communities forward.  Participants will be assigned to a team of 10-14 people that will work through a vision and set goals for a fictional town and use those to solve several development issues facing the community. On the final day each team presents their solutions using graphics and illustrations to communicate their ideas. The participatory style of the workshop assists the participants to understand the tools available to improve their communities. 

Click here for event information and registration.

Nunnally speaks of Alabama at Black Belt Museum
Dr. Thomas Nunnally, Professor emeritus of English, Auburn University, and Editor of Speaking of Alabama: The History, Diversity, Function, and Change of Language, presented a free public lecture "Speaking of Alabama and My Return to Y'all" at the Black Belt Museum on Thursday, February 21. The event was sponsored by the Black Belt Museum and the UWA Department of Language and Literature. For more  information, contact Dr. Lesa Shaul at

Specialty Job Search for local business and industry

There are currently specific local job needs in our area. Do you, or someone you know, have the specialty degree, experience  and/or skills needed to fill those jobs?

* Reliability Engineers
* Quality Controll
* Production 
* Refrigeration
* Industrial Maintenance
* Millwright
* Electrical Maintenance

Sumter Timber, Cemex, Two Rivers Lumber and Foster Farms are seeking specialty skilled employees.

If you are interested in applying for the positions listed above, please send your resume and cover letter to:
Executive Director Jo Ellen Martin, CEcD 
Marengo County Economic Development Authority
2400 East Coats Avenue, Linden, Ala. 36748
Phone: (334) 295-4417    

Click here for an information flyer.

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Center for the Study of the Black Belt
Black Belt Garden
Black Belt Archives
DEDO 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

Picnic at Fort Tombecbe on Thursday, Feb. 28

Click here to view 
the event flyer.

Ready To Work 
 orientation schedule 
Discover how you can be ready to work! Join us at our outreach events at The University of West Alabama (UWA).
Click here to view the class schedule.

Lamb to present at 
the 16th annual 
Mississippi Museum 
of Natural Science (MMNS) FOSSIL ROAD SHOW
James Lamb, Director of UWA's Black Belt Museum, is a guest presenter at the MMNS road show on Saturday, March 9.
For details, click here to view Fossil 
Road Show 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.

UWA Rural Technology 
 Summit  Registration now open
Attendees from across Alabama learned and shared ideas on technology issues.

The Alabama Summit on Rural Technology 2.0 presented by AT&T and the University of West Alabama will be held on Friday, April 12, 2019. The event will feature a broad slate of experts on Alabama's need for an enhanced technology infrastructure. 

For information about the April 19, 2019 event, contact Division of Economic Development and Outreach at 205-652-3827.

Click here for the Techololgy Summit 
registration link.

ACT Workkeys 
ACT Workkeys Assessment Testing takes place every Friday. Upcoming dates are February 22, March 1, 8 15 and 22..  For more information, contact Director of Econ omic Developmen t Allison Brantley to register at  abrantley@uw   or call 205-652-3 618.

Call for nominations.
Places In Peril (PIP) and ATHP Historic Preservation Awards  nomination form links are below.

Click here for PIP 
 nomination form.

Click here for ATHP Historic Preservation nomination form.

Alabama Bicentennial Updates

Stay up to date on statewide educational news, discover diverse resources for teachers and administrators, and be featured as a 
Spotlight School by actively participating in the Alabama bicentennial celebration.
For more information, 
click here.

UWA Division of Economic and Workforce Development |