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Alcorn to host Community Resource Development Conference

September 28, 2011 - “I Dream a Community: Economic Development, Leadership, Funding Sources and Educational Development” will be the theme of the 2nd annual Community Resource Development (CRD) Conference slated for October 20-21, 2011, according to Anthony Reed, interim assistant extension administrator.

The conference is being sponsored by the Alcorn State University Extension Program (ASUEP) and will be held at the Vicksburg Convention Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi. Workshop topics will include grant writing techniques, estate planning and funding resources. Day care center directors will receive contact hours for attending the workshops.

Helen Godfrey Smith, president/CEO of Shreveport Federal Credit Union, in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Dr. Kimberly Hillard, director of the University-Based Development Center at Jackson State University will be the featured speakers.

Smith has grown the financial institution from less than $2-million in assets to approximately $88-million today since beginning at the credit union in 1983.

“Mrs. Smith is a visionary and true believer in the ‘community development’ concept,” stated Reed. “She has opened four full-service branches of the credit union across north Louisiana including a corporate office in the Shreveport “Auto Mall” area, and she recently opened three branches in the Mississippi Delta area.”

Reed added, “Dr. Hillard is on a mission to make west Jackson a more vibrant community by restoring homes and businesses. Hilliard works with urban planners and developers on projects such as One University Place, an $18 million mixed-use project with apartments and retail space across the street from Jackson State. She also oversees the ‘WESToration Initiative’, a new program aimed at facilitating the purchase and refinancing of houses that need repairs or modernizing located along Ellis Avenue and Gallatin Street, extending to Highway 80.”

According to Reed, the conference is needed for several reasons, “There is a lack of regionalization of community development among smaller and larger counties; a lack of an informal network of people and organizations that have a passion for growing and sharing knowledge particularly in Southwest Mississippi. And in addition, there is a lack of mentoring of established businesses or newly-established businesses who want to build a broad base for involvement in community development across many sectors including the arts, health, and housing. The conference will allow business owners, organizational and community leaders, and governmental officials to share information, stories and resources. It will bring together practitioners, educators, community activists, advocates and decision-makers to explore the opportunities and challenges inherent in promoting the development of their own communities through resources available to them.”

Business counselors, technical assistance providers, rural community and economic development specialists, community/faith-based organizations, municipal officials, lenders, business owners, foundation representatives and policy centers are encouraged to attend. “We are hoping to make steps at the conference toward the development of a new regional plan of work by city and county governmental officials, opportunities for future internal and external growth that will serve as a tool for leveraging available resources for the citizens dwelling in throughout the state of Mississippi,” shared Reed.

To register for the conference, visit www.asuextension.com/crd-conference.html or call the Hinds Extension Office at 601-372-4677.