The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development (UACED) was founded by Dr. Malcolm Portera and approved by the Board of Trustees of The University of Alabama System in 1989. It serves as an economic outreach unit to access UA resources, expertise, and existing UA centers and programs to assist businesses, organizations, and state and local communities to help solve real world problems and grow the state's economy. The Center continues that tradition today by utilizing professional UA staff and customized project teams to provide technical assistance to communities, agencies, and organizations. It takes an asset-based planning approach to help communities and organizations respond to challenges and capitalize on a variety of economic development opportunities for growth.
- Enhance the economic well-being of Alabama communities by providing technical assistance and linkages to resources
- Gateway to University of Alabama Community and Economic Development Assets and Resources
- Address economic development needs of rural and urban communities throughout Alabama
- Build resource teams and programs around community development needs (examples: leadership development, economic diversification, planning)
- Partner with external community and economic development resources focused on enhancing Alabama’s economic profile
- Serve communities in practical, applied projects, assisting with planning and implementation
- Provide leadership in charting non-traditional and new mechanisms for economic development
One of UACED’s priorities is to work with rural and urban communities throughout the state. Typically, the Center works with approximately 25 communities or counties every year. The Center frequently works in collaboration with the Regional Planning Commissions and state agencies, assisting in various areas such as planning, grants and project management, leadership development, organizing topical seminars, and community development efforts.
UACED is a founding member of two organizations focused on helping small and rural towns succeed--Your Town Alabama and Alabama Communities of Excellence. Your Town Alabama provides an immersive, participatory workshop that introduces grassroots leaders to the importance of planning and design as tools for preserving their unique characteristics. The Alabama Communities of Excellence program is a three-phased technical assistance program that provides a team of professional community and economic development specialists to assist the town in developing their organizational structure, bolstering their leadership base, and refining their vision and plans, in order to grow and prosper.
Rural and urban communities have access to a wide range of services available from UACED and The University of Alabama. Many communities and counties need assistance with large-scale projects, like downtown redevelopment, diversification of their business base, or city and county outdoor recreation plans. The UACED/UA team routinely undertakes assessments and feasibility studies, retail/commercial and housing gap analysis, and the identification of financing resources, both public and private.