Advanced Year

Information for Prospective Participants

CDI is now accepting registrations for the Advanced Year class. The class is open to any graduate of the Community Development Institute. Please e-mail Amy Whitehead at if you would like more information or have any questions.

Registration cost: $550

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Josh Hawkins Quote AY


CDI 2016 Advanced Year Work in Lonoke, AR 

The CDI 2016 Advanced Year class began working with Lonoke, AR during the first week of August. The class of economic and community development experts assessed the city through an online assessment, research-based assessment, driving tour, and speaking with community leaders and citizens. At the end of the week, the class presented their findings, observations, and “golden nuggets” to the community.

Moving forward, UCA’s Center for Community and Economic Development and U of A’s Cooperative Extension Service will assist Lonoke in the creation of a strategic action plan.


CDI 2015 Advanced Year Work in Heber Springs, AR 

DSC_0003The Center for Community and Economic Development worked with U of A Cooperative Extension and Dr. Mark Peterson in Heber Springs, AR during the CDI 2015 Advanced Year class. Heber Springs was selected as the Advanced Year Kick Start Community for the 2015 Institute.

During CDI 2015, a group of professional community and economic professionals and CDI graduates assessed the city through an online assessment, research-based assessment, driving tour, and speaking community leaders and citizens during the week of CDI 2015. Moving forward beyond the Advanced Year Class, UCA’s Center for Community and Economic Development and U of A’s Cooperative Extension Service assisted Heber Springs in holding community meetings and constructing a core leadership group. Through these community meetings, six priority areas were identified for the city: Branding & Marketing, Economic Development, Funding & Finance, Tourism, Quality of Life & Place, and Education. Heber Springs has completed many “short term wins” that have propelled the community forward:

  • The Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce realized a need to be have a more visible presence downtown. By initiating this conversation during the planning process, First Security Bank of Heber Springs saw an opportunity to make this dream a reality. First Security is constructing a new building, and will lease their old building, which is located downtown, to the Chamber of Commerce.
  • The Chamber of Commerce also realized that there was an opportunity to fund local development projects, but a clear organization to manage and distribute funds needed to be created. The Chamber is now in the process of creating a foundation to serve this need.
  • Quality of place and tourism emerged as priority areas for the community. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department awarded $180,000 for a sidewalk project and Greers Ferry Lake trail extension, providing a shot in the arm for these efforts.
  • The community also realized there was as an opportunity to tell its story to potential tourists and residents through web-based video. The Chamber has subsequently partnered with a local high school technology class, known as an EAST Lab, to produce a video highlighting the migratory birds that make Greers Ferry Lake their home during part of the winter, with a long term goal of creating a YouTube channel to house additional videos.

A five year strategic action plan will be the ultimate take away from Heber Springs Advanced Year experience.

Read the report prepared by the Advanced Year Class here: Advanced Year Report

The Kick Start Heber Springs Action Plan: A Blueprint for the Future can be found here:


CDI 2014 Advanced Year Work in Paris, AR

Teaming up with Dr. Mark Peterson of the U of A Cooperative Extension, the Center for Community and Economic Development launched the 2014 CDI Advanced Year into the community of Paris, AR. Through months of community forums and intensive planning, the community created a plan for success that would drive them into a successful future.

The Paris Action Plan can be found here: Paris Action Plan