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VP of Bentonville Economic Development Graduates from Economic Development Institute

Vice President Economic Development


James Bell, Vice President of Bentonville Economic Development at the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce, graduated from the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute (OU EDI) on October 28, 2021.

OU EDI is an intensive 117-hour certificate program which provides a broad spectrum of advanced education for the economic development professional. Mark James, Dean, said, “OU EDI is the premier organization dedicated to training economic development professionals. These graduates represent some of the finest economic development practitioners in the U.S. working to support their local communities.”

“Completion of this rigorous coursework not only represents professional growth and achievement, but more importantly represents additional expertise and tools I may use to deliver greater value to our businesses and community. It aids in our efforts at the Chamber around purposeful business and workforce attraction, retention, and expansion, which are crucial elements for fueling Bentonville’s 21st-century economy,” says Bell.

OU EDI classes focus on three major core areas including: Business Retention and Expansion, Real Estate, and Credit Analysis, as well as areas of concentration in Workforce Development, Marketing & Attraction, Strategic Planning, Entrepreneurship & Small Business Planning, Community & Neighborhood Development, and Managing Economic Development Organizations. Students typically take 2-3 years to complete the program through a series of intensive in-person or online courses.

“As our economy and the industries driving it changes, high level proficiency in foundational skills and knowledge are critical to evolving our suite of services as we develop new tools and tactics for staying ahead of emerging trends for industry and talent attraction.” Says Graham Cobb, President and CEO of the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce. “James has shown an ability to accelerate his learning curve which is integral in maintaining the paceline of progress in Bentonville. The curriculum and community of EDI will provide additional scaffolding as we continue to build toward tomorrow.”

Fully accredited by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the program has certified nearly 6,000 professionals and remains the world’s leading economic development program.


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