Rush Harris, Director of Business Services for the Marshall Economic Development Corporation (Marshall EDC), has earned the designation of Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The designation denotes a mastery of skills in economic development and professional attainment.
The CEcD designation recognizes qualified and dedicated practitioners in the economic development field and sets the standard of excellence within the profession.
Candidates must pass a rigorous and detailed examination which includes comprehensive questions, short answers, essays, and oral interviews. The exam spans two days and is designed to test a practitioner’s knowledge, proficiency, and judgment in the following key areas of economic development:
Business retention & expansion
Finance & credit analysis
Marketing & attraction
Entrepreneurial & small business development
Managing economic development organizations
Neighborhood development strategies
Real estate development & reuse
Technology-led economic development
Workforce development strategies
As highly competent economic development professionals, CEcDs work with public officials, business leaders and community members to create leadership to build upon and maximize the economic development sector. Excellence in the economic development profession improves the well-being, quality of life and opportunities for individuals, businesses and communities. There are approximately 1,100 active CEcDs in the United States.
Harris was encouraged to pursue the CEcD certification by Marshall EDC Executive Director, Donna Maisel, CEcD and the Board of Directors. Maisel earned the same designation in 2004.
“Marshall EDC Board and staff are proud of Rush and his accomplishment. Earning the designation is truly an achievement in itself. Only a select few ever complete the honor out of the many who work toward the goal. It demonstrates the ability to be knowledgeable in the components of development as well as an assurance to industries, site consultants and governmental entities that the international standard for professional economic developers has been attained. It reflects his ability to facilitate all components of business development and growth on behalf of the community. One aspect that is unique to Marshall is the fact that there are now two certified economic developers on staff. Most communities the size of Marshall do not have that strength. It further assists our community to pursue and address more opportunities for growth, both now and in the future. Rush Harris and his training are valuable assets to our organization.”
Harris began his training in 2016 with the IEDC Basic Economic Development Course offered through Texas A&M University Extension Office and the Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC). Thereafter, he enrolled in the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute (OUEDI), a leading economic development training program in the United States. Over the next three years, Harris completed an intensive 117-hour certificate program while working at Marshall EDC. OUEDI courses focus on a broad spectrum of advanced education for the economic development professional.
By February 2020, Harris completed the requirements to sit for the CEcD exam in Tampa Bay, Florida. He and 11 of his contemporaries across North America passed the full exam which had a pass rate of 29%.
Harris is a native of Marshall. He graduated Marshall High School in 1995 and Southern Methodist University in 1999, with a BA in Business Administration. Thereafter Harris worked in logistics in Dallas before making an unconventional decision that changed his business trajectory and life.
In 2002, Harris took a volunteer position with the United States Peace Corps. He was assigned to work in agricultural marketing in Guatemala with a cooperative of farmers desiring to develop national and international markets for their products.
“My job as a Peace Corps volunteer required motivating and training local workers, in Spanish, to engage in advanced business practices. It was not to do everything for them. Guatemala experienced a civil war lasting over 30 years, which created extreme conditions of poverty, disparity, racial tension, and lack of education. It was my first experience with economic development and was a difficult to say the least, but I loved what I was doing. Every day was a unique challenge.”
Harris returned to Marshall upon completing his 2-year service commitment and worked as a landman in East Texas. In 2008, Harris was accepted to the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, Arizona where he received an MBA in Global Management, graduating with Honors.
In 2011 Harris joined the Marshall Economic Development team as the Director of Business Services with a focus on property management.
Since that time, his duties and experience have evolved to all aspects of the Marshall EDC as specific training and work-related projects were completed.
Harris is married to Dinora, whom he met while living in Guatemala. They have two children, Gabriela and Grace. They enjoy raising their children near family and in an environment that allows them to spend time with each other.