February 23, 2023
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Students Intern in Economic Development
Montgomery, Ala.—Ever since his freshman year at Baldwin County High School, Huntingdon College senior Nick Hadley has planned, hoped, and prepared for a career in economic development. During the summer of that year, Nick participated in a Huntingdon high school economic development program, which turned him on to the possibilities in that career field. After attending Coastal Alabama Community College, Nick transferred to Huntingdon “because the network [for connecting with economic development and with state government in general] here is amazing,” he says. “I also knew that if everything worked out I’d have the chance through our Center for Career and Vocation to apply for an Economic Development Association of Alabama internship during my senior year.”
Like Nick, Gabe Dunn, who hails from outside Andalusia, Alabama, was introduced to Huntingdon and to a future career in economic development during a Huntingdon summer program for high school students. He, too, enrolled at Huntingdon and chose to apply for an EDAA internship.
The Economic Development Association of Alabama internship is a partnership of SPIRE Energy, PowerSouth, Alabama Power, and the Department of Commerce. Nick and Gabe were two of five summer interns in economic and community development with EDAA—Gabe with the Department of Commerce and Nick with PowerSouth. The five interns came together frequently for field trips and information sessions and joined together for a final project at the end of the summer.
“I loved it,” says Gabe. “Taking trips with the senior department managers and learning about the different projects and incentives. The rural experience was especially exciting to me—it inspired me to look further at how I can help my state and my community.”
“In the past eight years, Huntingdon has placed at least six students in these important internships with the EDAA,” said Dr. Anthony Leigh, senior vice president for student and institutional development and dean of students. “At least three have gone on to further economic development work for Alabama, for Alabama corporations, or for other states, including Grant Hayes, Class of 2014, whose career advanced from the Shelby County (Alabama) Economic Development Authority to various roles in Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, and is currently working with economic development groups on behalf of Avison Young; Tyler Chaffee, Class of 2015, who works with the Tennessee Valley Authority; and Jeremy Wolfe, Class of 2016, who worked with the Department of Commerce after graduating until moving to Hyundai this year. I can’t stress enough how important their work is, both for the communities they serve and for our country.”
Nick and Gabe are both part of the Presidential Fellows program at Huntingdon and are business administration majors and brothers in Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Nick’s Fellows team is Media Production, where he works with Frazer Church to set up the media presentations that accompany weekly church services. Gabe serves his fellowship as an intern with Montgomery Area Non-Traditional Equestrians, where he works with clients in therapeutic horseback riding programs and helps with the horses and barn maintenance.
In economic development, Gabe is drawn to rural development opportunities, helping smaller communities find new ways to thrive. A junior communication studies minor, Gabe says that ever since the internship he relates his coursework back to what he learned during that experience, considering ways that rural communities can craft messages and communications to attract companies to settle in their area. Gabe plans to seek out another EDAA internship before graduating to gain as much experience as possible to prepare for a career in the field.
Nick, a senior, is completing a second EDAA internship—this time with the Department of Commerce. Through his work, Nick is learning more about corporate research, meeting with local developers, assisting with projects, corporate incentives, and methods by which the state performs due diligence in attracting companies to the area. “Being able to see the impact economic development has on the community—providing jobs so that families can live and eat comfortably—makes me certain that this is what I’m called to do,” says Nick, who hopes to continue his work in economic development when he graduates in May.
Huntingdon College is a coeducational residential liberal arts college of the United Methodist Church offering more than thirty undergraduate programs of study, an Honors Program, Presidential Fellows Program, Kingswood Initiative, choral and instrumental music programs, dance and cheer teams, student organizations including Greek life and Campus Ministries, 21 NCAA-Division III athletic teams, and coed ESports, new for fall 2023. The College also offers the Master of Athletic Training.