CDI Podcast

Episode 58

Summary: Join us on for episode 58 of the CDI Podcast as our CCED 2022 spring intern Dalton Thompson and UCA student Gabrielle Harvey speak with Arkansas Lt. Governor Tim Griffin! Lt. Governor Griffin shares his background, vision, and scope of work. Learn more by listening to his story on the CDI Podcast.

Episode 57

Summary: Health is a critical component of a strong community and economic development ecosystem. On this week’s CDI Podcast, we deep dive into why creating healthy communities is important with Robert Furrey, Associate Vice President of Hospital Operations at Baptist Health Medical Center – Conway. Robert also shares his thoughts on HOW we can support our citizens on their health journey.

Episode 56

Summary: On the latest episode of the CDI Podcast, we are joined by Zachary Mannheimer of Atlas Community Studios and Alquist 3D to learn about his career, a holistic approach to community and economic development, and the future of affordable housing development with 3D printed homes.

Fun Fact: Zachary is a certified Arkansas Traveler through the State of Arkansas!

Episode 55

Summary: Why should community leaders focus on mental health as an important economic issue? According to a study published by PharmacoEconomics, latest estimates show that the incremental economic burden of adults with major depressive disorders (MDD) was $326 billion in 2018, 38 percent higher than in 2010.

On this week’s CDI Podcast, we explore why supporting mental health should be a crucial piece of every leader’s community and economic development plans with Greta Hacker, UCA graduate student and CCED GA.

Episode 54

Summary: Since its inception in 2016, the Arkansas Coding Academy (ARCA) has provided information technology training to individuals looking to learn new technical skills. On this week’s CDI Podcast episode, ARCA Director Alison Wish shares how ARCA supports its students and the workforce demands in our state in a unique way.

Episode 53

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, we’re joined by Dr. Ryan Watley, CEO of Go Forward Pine Bluff, to learn about their progress on community and economic development initiatives in Pine Bluff including their downtown streetscape and upcoming 6th Avenue Project.

Episode 52

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, we are joined by CCED Graduate Assistant, Greta Hacker, as she interviews UCA Professor and Director of the UCA Public Administration Program, Dr. Kim Hoffman. We will hear about Dr. Hoffman’s career, her thoughts on civics education, and the value of public service in our communities.

Episode 51

Summary: Joe Borgstrom’s 20+ year career in community and economic development has been focused on helping communities develop into their best selves, build their future, and tell their stories. Joe’s company, Place + Main Advisors, understands the importance of a multi layered development approach, at neighborhood, downtown, citywide and regional levels. Tune into this week’s CDI Podcast as we explore the amazing work that Joe and Place + Main Advisor’s are a part of.

Episode 50

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, we’re joined by Senator Joyce Elliott to discuss her new civic engagement organization, Get Loud, Arkansas, that aims to register new voters, engage low propensity voters, and mobilize all Eligible voters to utilize the power of their vote to shape the future of Arkansas. We discuss Senator Elliott’s career, the goals of this effort, and how you can get involved in the process.

Episode 49

Summary: It’s the season 3 premiere! Listen in on our conversation with University of Central Arkansas Chief of Staff and Bill Miller Award winner Amy Whitehead! We discuss the UCA Extension services group and UCA’s role in community and economic development in the state of Arkansas.

Episode 48

Summary: You thought Season 2 of the CDI Podcast was over? Not quite! We have one more “bonus episode” to share with our listeners featuring Dr. Michael Yoder. Dr. Yoder speaks with us about the knowledge he imparted in the new edition of the Community Development Handbook (our core curriculum at the Community Development Institute) and gives us a sneak peak into the content of his latest book.

Episode 47

Summary: When Dr. Steven Collier created ARcare, a nonprofit, federally qualified health center (FQHC) with discounted rates, he shared the mandate to serve “the least, the last, and the lost.” ARcare focuses on providing healthcare to all, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. On this episode of the CDI Podcast, Director of the ARcare Foundation David Orr and Vice President of Operations Representative Aaron Pilkington share ARcare’s mission, vision, and why they believe health is a crucial piece of community and economic development.

Episode 46

Summary: We’re joined by CEO Dee Brown and Chief Business Offer Grandon Gray of The P3 Group. The P3 Group specializes in business, community, and urban development through the creation of Public-Private Partnerships. We talk about their careers, their work in Arkansas and beyond, and how they’ve woven community development into their business model.

Episode 45

Summary: March 2021 marked the 10 Year Anniversary of the Fort Smith Regional Alliance! To mark the occasion, Drake Smith and Ken Warden join us on the podcast. We discuss the various projects coming out of the Ft. Smith Regional Alliance and the bright future of the Ft. Smith region.

Episode 44

Summary: What do you know about the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)? As our team was considering who would be best to discuss this topic, there was only one answer: Martie North with Simmons Bank. Martie serves as the senior vice president and director of community development and the Community Reinvestment Act at Simmons. On this week’s CDI Podcast, we speak with Martie about the CRA, Simmons Bank, and why it is important for community leaders to build relationships with their local bankers.

Episode 43

Summary: Retail is a foundational piece of the economic ecosystem in our communities, and oftentimes even a place to begin to build your local economy. But if you want to get serious about retail development and recruitment, where do you start? Join us on the CDI Podcast as experts with Retail Strategies, Clay Craft and Jenn Gregory, share insider knowledge on retail and small business development at the local level.

Episode 42

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, we talk with Dr. Joe Thompson of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI)! We talk about the COVID-19 pandemic, the health of our communities in Arkansas, and what our community leaders can do to recognize and limit Zipcode Risk. This podcast was recorded in February of 2021.

Learn more about ACHI here.

Episode 41

Summary: In its simplest terms, diversity means the richness and wide spectrum of humanity that is reflected all around us, and inclusion means identifying, understanding, and appreciating that richness and placing ourselves in it every day with the goal to listen, learn, and lean in. This definition reflects one of many beautiful insights and lessons that Wendy Holbrook and Charlotte Strickland of the University of Central Arkansas share on this episode of the CDI Podcast. Join us for this episode as we explore diversity and inclusion together.

Episode 40

Summary: This week’s episode features Sasha Grist, Executive Director of the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District. We talk about her unique career path, her passion for community development, and how CDI set her up for success!

Episode 39

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, we speak with Monieca West about her career in the community and economic development field, her work at the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and the knowledge and awareness she would like to impart on community leaders across the state.

Episode 38

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, we speak with Mark O’Mell of the East Arkansas Crossroads Coalition. We talk about Mark’s career, the unique challenges of regional economic development, and why being your authentic self is the best way to navigate the community and economic development industry.

Learn more about the East Arkansas Crossroads Coalition here.

Episode 37

Summary: Shelley Short wears two distinct hats; simultaneously serving as the Vice President Programs and Partnerships at the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and as the Executive Director of Arkansas Economic Developers & Chamber Executives (AEDCE). While these two roles serve two purposes, they meld together to create a stronger foundation for economic development across the state of Arkansas. Episode 37 of the CDI Podcast will explore Shelley’s professional life, her role at the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, and the benefits of AEDCE.

Episode 36

Summary: The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service (UAEX) Community, Professional & Economic Development unit is the team that has a long name, but provides amazing results across the state of Arkansas. The Community, Professional & Economic Development unit provides services such as leadership programs and development, community and economic development training and technical assistance, education services and programs for Arkansas businesses, and houses the Arkansas Public Policy Center. Learn more about this unique asset in Arkansas from its Director Dr. Stacey McCullough on this week’s CDI Podcast episode.

Episode 35

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, we talk to Bill Luther of the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce. Bill talks about his upbringing, how his business community thrived during the pandemic, and the impact of the Community Development Institute on his career.

Episode 34

Summary: This week on the podcast, we’re joined by the incredible Linsley Kinkade. Linsley is the Senior Director of U.S. Programs for Winrock International. Linsley is also a CDI graduate, a member of our CDI Advisory Board, and a PCED holder. We discuss her incredible professional background and work with Winrock International. Linsley also offers a few tips to current CDI participants.

Episode 33

Summary: CDI 2021 Keynote Speaker Matt Dunne of the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) joins us to share insights about himself, his organization, and how every small town can unlock its potential using innovation as a key. CORI uses progressive public, private, and philanthropic partnerships and strategies to achieve sustainable economic success in rural America.

Episode 32

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, we speak with Jeff Amerine of Startup Junkie and Jeff Standridge of the Conductor about their new book, Creating Startup Junkies. Creating Startup Junkies focuses on the unique proposition of creating sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems in unexpected places. Arkansas, and other “flyover states”, are well-positioned to create startup activity and strengthen their ecosystem through intentional cultivation of a collaborative culture, engagement with the community, and capitalization of early-stage ventures. Creating Startup Junkies outlines this genesis through knowledge, anecdotes, tools, and a framework to transform your community and create your own team of Startup Junkies.

You can learn more and purchase the book here:

Episode 31

Summary: It’s the season 2 premiere of the CDI Podcast! We are excited to carry the CDI Podcast into its second season with Candace Williams. Candace is the Executive Director for the Rural Community Alliance. Candace is also a CDI graduate, a CDI Year 2 Class Director, and a member of our CDI Advisory Board. In this episode, Candace tells us about her incredible history with Rural Community Alliance, her passion for education and advocacy, and how CDI continues to influence her work.

Episode 30

Summary: Welcome to the finale of season one of the CDI Podcast! We wanted to make our season finale special so we have assembled some CDI Podcast All-Stars to reflect on the year, discuss our favorite CDI Podcast episodes, and talk about what we are looking forward to going into 2021.

We hope you have enjoyed this season of the CDI Podcast as much as we enjoyed making it! Thanks so much for listening and be on the lookout for season two starting in the spring of 2021. See you next year on the CDI Podcast!

Episode 29

Summary: On this episode, we talk with Quint Studer, author of Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen Powered Change is Reshaping America. We recently read Quint’s book at our CDI Book Club and wanted to invite him to the podcast to share his insights about community and economic development. We discuss his career, his experience revitalizing Pensacola’s downtown, and how to prepare your community for change. You can learn more at or by exploring the following resources:

  • EntreCon: EntreCon is our annual business and leadership conference. Now that EntreCon is fully virtual, people located anywhere are able to attend. This year, in addition to the main keynotes, we have 5 tracks. One of those tracks is a community-building track focused on creating great places to work and live and helping communities on their path to vibrancy.
  • CivicCon: Civic education helps people be more effective citizens, voters, and community members. When we provide it, we take the first and most powerful step to creating civic engagement. And an army of well-informed, highly engaged, and activated citizens becomes the engine that powers that journey to vibrancy. They are the contributors and refiners of great ideas, the voices that advocate for change, the “boots on the ground” that make things happen. You can view CivicCon talks at this link.

Episode 28

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, we talk with Samantha (Sam) Evans who serves on the Community Development Team at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. Sam focuses on workforce development and on the podcast we talk about the future of workforce development, how community members can be involved in that process, and her experience as a graduate, speaker, and advisor for the Community Development Institute.

Below are a few resources relevant to this conversation:

Episode 27

Summary: The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down. That statement especially applies to our downtowns and Main Streets. Yet, those challenges lead to opportunities for change and lessons learned. Melida Heien of Longview Main Street shares insights into how she and her small business network have faced COVID head-on and highlights within downtown Longview.

Episode 26

Summary: Director of Community Development at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) Matt Twyford and his team have continued to support communities, small businesses, and citizens across Arkansas as the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to affect our state. On episode 26 of the CDI Podcast, Matt shares information about himself and AEDC, how he and his team have pivoted their work, and why he thinks it’s important for communities to focus on community development as well as economic development.

Episode 25

Summary: On this episode, we talk with Danny Presley who serves as City Manager of Webster, Texas. Danny is a CDI graduate and recently participated in our CDI Advanced Year class where we created a First Impressions Tour (FIT) Report for the City of Beebe. Danny shares information about his career in law enforcement, his dedication to continuing education, and his experience during the CDI Advanced Year.

Episode 24

Summary: “We’re not in person anymore…” (a play off of Stranger Things) may be the tagline for the 2020 Arkansas Community Development Society (ACDS) conference, but it accurately describes the reality many of us are still coping with. Pivoting to accommodate a COVID-19 world, the ACDS board made the decision to move it’s annual event virtual and also make it accessible to everyone by eliminating registration fees. Check out this week’s CDI Podcast to learn more about ACDS and the 2020 conference from President Patty Methvin and Vice President of Programs Whitney Horton.

The conference will be held Thursday, October 15 and you can learn more at

Episode 23

Summary: Our team at UCA has been looking for ways to speak more directly to issues of race and racial injustice that affect our communities. Therefore we created the Arkansas Racial Equity Summit that will take place on October 8. Leading up to the Summit, we asked Dr. Phillip Fletcher, executive director of CoHO, to join us on the podcast to share about his career, his work in Conway and around Arkansas, and issues of racial inequality that face our communities. CoHO is celebrating 13 years of advocating for others by opening holistic centers in Central Arkansas’s under-resourced areas.

Episode 22

Summary: On this episode, we are joined by CDI alum Lisa Taylor! Lisa serves as the Economic Developer for the City of Durant and Executive Director of the Durant Industrial Authority. Lisa was formerly here with us in Arkansas as the Economic Development Director for Sevier County. She is a CDI graduate, PCED holder, and just recently graduated from the CDI 2020 Advanced Year. Lisa shares information about the impact of walk audits and “geo conquesting.”

Episode 21

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, we are speaking with Dr. Joe Fratesi and Jeremy Murdock of the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. Joe and Jeremy work with us through our Community Catalyst program where we are utilizing Strategic Doing to spur community-led action. We talk about their careers, Strategic Doing, and how to utilize Strategic Doing to get things done in your community.

Episode 20

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, we talk to the AR Conductor’s Director of Entrepreneurial Communities, Tiffany Henry, about entrepreneurial ecosystem building, supporting small businesses through COVID-19, and what communities can do to create a more supportive environment for entrepreneurs. The AR Conductor is a public-private partnership between UCA and Startup Junkie Consulting that works to empower entrepreneurs, innovators, and makers in central Arkansas. You can learn more about their work at

Episode 19

Summary: On this episode, we are joined by Mayor Joe Hurst of Van Buren, Arkansas! Mayor Hurst is in his first mayoral term and is a graduate of the Community Development Institute. We talk about what it’s like being an elected official, his thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic, and his favorite part about CDI.

Episode 18

Summary: When Arkansas native, Kentucky transplant, CDI graduate, and PCED holder Emily Hathcock was in college her goal was to become a librarian. Yet, she ended up in the field of community and economic development. Learn how Emily ended up where she is today, how the Barren River Area Development District is assisting its local communities during the pandemic, and the difference between Kentucky’s area development districts and Arkansas’s planning and development districts on this episode of the CDI podcast.

Episode 17

Summary: On this episode of the CDI Podcast, UCA CDI’s Dylan Edgell and Emily Cooper talk to Lonoke Mayor Trae Reed about what it was like becoming Mayor, his experience being on both sides of a strategic planning process (a citizen, then elected official), and what community leaders can do to involve their citizens in community and economic development projects.

Episode 16

Summary: On Episode 16 of the CDI podcast we visit with one of our favorite neighbors to the south Lisa Johnson, president and CEO the Bossier Chamber of Commerce. The staff at the Bossier Chamber serves area businesses and is committed to working to help strengthen and enhance growth and development in Northwest Louisiana.

Episode 15

Summary: 64.6 Downtown is a nonprofit committed to creating vibrant spaces in downtown Fort Smith through business development, arts and culture, and special events and projects. On this episode of the CDI Podcast, Executive Director Talicia Richardson shares how 64.6 Downtown strives to be the intersection where arts, recreation, entertainment, and lifestyle collide to create a vibrant downtown.

Episode 14

Summary: Are you curious about the CDI Advanced Year? Then you need to listen to this episode of the CDI Podcast! Doug Warner, a Cabot city council member, shares insights into the CDI Advanced Year and his own experience as an elected official in the City of Cabot.

Episode 13

Summary: Innovate Arkansas is a state-funded initiative that helps scale promising Arkansas technology ventures. Funded by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and administered by Winrock International, Innovate Arkansas assists technology entrepreneurs in turning startup companies into viable commercial enterprises. This week on the CDI Podcast, we speak with Innovate Arkansas Program Officer Vicki Malpass. Vicki works directly with startup companies and entrepreneurs in order to ascertain the level of technical assistance required to enable those companies to move toward the ultimate goal of commercialization.

Episode 12

Summary: We are living in a new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Executive Director of the Newport Economic Development Commission Jon Chadwell shares how the City of Newport is pivoting to support its citizens and businesses during the pandemic and how he and his staff are planning for a post-COVID world.

Episode 11

Summary: The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute (WRI) on Petit Jean Mountain is a nonprofit organization that believes valuing diversity of opinion, practicing collaborative problem solving and engaging in respectful dialogue combine to create transformational change. This week on the CDI Podcast, we dive deeper into the programs and services WRI provides to make a positive impact on our state with James Hopper, Director of Programs.

Episode 10

Summary: Have you heard of all the great things Thrive is doing in Helena-West Helena and across the state of Arkansas? Thrive is a non profit design firm who splits their time between operating a small graphic design firm as well as running community development programs. It is Thrive’s vision that their work with 7th – 12th grade students and as designers will attract new, creative residents to Helena. Learn more on Episode 10 of the CDI Podcast!

Episode 9

Summary: Do you know what a walk audit is? Or a bicycle and pedestrian (bike ped) master plan? Do you know why either of these are beneficial for your community? Join us for Episode 9 of the CDI Podcast for the answers to these questions. We are joined by Crafton Tull‘s Vice President of Business Development Dave Roberts, an expert in all things site planning and urban design.

Episode 8

Summary: The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce has been the voice of the Conway (and surrounding area) business community since 1891 and Executive Vice President Jamie Gates is not only a leader in the Conway community, but is a well-known community and economic development expert throughout the state. On Episode 8 of the CDI podcast, you’ll learn more about Jamie and his thoughts concerning the state of business in Arkansas.

Episode 7

Summary: Dr. Jeff Standridge is the Managing Director of the AR Conductor, a public-private initiative powered by the Central Arkansas Venture Team, sponsored by the University of Central Arkansas and supported by Startup Junkie Consulting and Community Venture Foundation. Episode 7 of the CDI podcast explores the world of entrepreneurship in Arkansas through the eyes of Dr. Standridge and his unique background.

Episode 6

Summary: President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce Julie Murray is an experienced business professional with an extensive background in strategic planning and community development. Join us on Episode 6 of the CDI Podcast to learn more about Julie, Van Buren, and her unique views from the Chamber world!

Episode 5

Summary: Entergy Arkansas is a foundational piece of the community and economic development infrastructure in our state. Tandee White, Entergy’s Community Development Program Manager, shares insights in supporting our local communities, preparing for the future, and her experience on the ground in our cities and towns. Entergy is a sponsor of CDI 2020 and a strong advocate and partner for our team at the University of Central Arkansas.

Episode 4

Summary: Engaging young people in our communities can sometimes be a challenge, but their input is necessary if you want to create a vibrant, growing city. Learn some tips and tricks on engaging young folks (specifically college students) from two amazing University of Central Arkansas students, Will Gloster and Javier Hernandez.

Episode 3

Summary: Director of Service Learning and Volunteerism at the University of Central Arkansas Dr. Lesley Graybeal joins us on the CDI Podcast to answer questions about service learning, volunteerism, and how you can harness the power of college students to make a positive impact on your community.

Episode 2

Summary: On this episode, we learn about the organization with a long name that provides amazing results: the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (better known as the ASBTDC)! Interim Programs Manager Whitney Horton shares resources the ASBTDC provides and gives us a peek behind the curtain into her past and present life.

Episode 1

Summary: Welcome to the CDI Podcast! On this episode, University of Central Arkansas (UCA) Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) Director Shelby Fiegel and Assistant Director Dylan Edgell share information about their work at UCA CCED, themselves, and what to expect on upcoming episodes.