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Why should I become certified?

For professionals who work to foster entrepreneurship and small business growth, this credential will demonstrate to community leaders and peers the experience, tools, and knowledge you have to make a difference through entrepreneurship-led economic development (ELED). The coursework and certification process will give you the opportunity to develop or improve upon an ELED strategy in your community, with guidance from experts in this field. Plus, you will also have the opportunity to connect with other professionals in this emerging field, learn from their experiences on the ground, and contribute to the development of the practice itself.

If you are looking for continued entrepreneurship focused professional development, hands on training on how to connect entrepreneurship focused resources in your community and knowledge to develop successful entrepreneurship support programs, this credential is right for you.

Who is this credential for?

Anyone who works with small businesses, entrepreneurs, or supports entrepreneurship are encouraged to take IEDC’s entrepreneurship-led economic development courses and sit for the credential. This credential connects entrepreneurship support, economic development and community development in order to create and nurture thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Specifically, professionals who work at the following types of organizations will find that the credential is useful in their work and career growth:

  • Economic Development Organizations (EDO)
  • Entrepreneurship Support Organizations (ESO)
  • City, county, state, or federal government
  • Institution of higher education
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Bank, venture capital, or investment firms

Is there a specific amount of experience required before one can apply for certification?

Yes, you need have a minimum of 2 years of paid, full-time work in economic development or entrepreneurial support to sit for the exam. You can get started on the core and elective courses before you have two years of experience under your belt though.

What courses do I need to take?

Required courses:

  • Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Strategies (ESBDS)
  • Introduction to Entrepreneurship-Led Economic Development (ELED I)
  • Accelerating Growth through Entrepreneurship-Led Economic Development (ELED II)
  • ED Credit Analysis

Electives (choose one):

  • Neighborhood Development Strategies
  • Tech-led Economic Development
  • Business Retention and Expansion
  • ED Finance Programs

I live outside of the United States, can I become certified?

Yes, professionals who practice entrepreneurship-led economic development around the world are encouraged to take IEDC’s entrepreneurship courses and the ELED credential.

Is there a particular order in which the courses should be taken?

We recommend the below order of core courses an optimal learning experience, but it is not required. You are free to attend the courses that best meet your own schedule, budget and professional needs.

  1. ESBDS
  2. ELED I
  3. ELED II
  4. Credit Analysis

The elective course can be taken at any time.

Can courses I have taken or plan to take for the CEcD credential apply for the ELED credential too?

Yes, there are several courses that can be taken to fulfill both the CEcD certification as well and ELED requirements.

I am a current CEcD, what courses do I need to take to become ELED certified?

IEDC courses that you took during the process of becoming certified as a CEcD will count towards the new credential as well, i.e. ED Credit Analysis and Business Retention and Expansion, since these are required courses for the CEcD. You will need to take the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Strategies (ESBDS) course if you did not take it as an elective for the CEcD. Everyone will need to take ELED I and II courses as these are new courses. 

How long does the certification process take?

There is no set time frame for certification, each course is offered one to three times per year. The length of time depends on your budget, schedule, and the urgency you personally feel about becoming certified.

How much does the certification process cost?

Based on the early rate for IEDC members:

Course Registration

Depending on the elective course chosen, the total cost varies by just $110. Two-day courses are $505, and three-day courses are $615.

$2,635 - $2,745

Exam Application



$3,230 - $3,340


What will I be tested on?

The multiple choice exam questions are based on the training course materials. Every IEDC course comes with a manual as part of the registration. These manuals will serve as the basis for the multiple choice component of the exam, and should be used as the primary study material. 

You will need five manuals in total, the four core manuals: Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Strategies (ESBDS), Introduction to Entrepreneurship-Led Economic Development (ELED I), Accelerating Growth through Entrepreneurship-Led Economic Development (ELED II) and ED Credit Analysis, as well as one of the elective courses you have chosen to take.

What does the exam look like?

The exam will have 2 components:

  1. Multiple choice
  2. Project Assessment and Oral Interview
    1. As part of the course curriculum, attendees will be asked to identify an issue facing their organization or program and develop a plan to address that issue. The idea is to encourage translation of the skills learned in the classroom directly to the attendee’s work. Exam candidates will be asked to submit a brief project write-up and make a presentation during the oral interview. Oral graders will assess and provide feedback.
    2. Oral graders will ask additional questions not pertaining to the project to assess candidates on their knowledge of ELED topics.

What must I do to maintain my certification?

Once you have received your certification, to maintain the credential you must participate in entrepreneurship-led economic development activities and recertify every three years. Check out the recertification page regarding the specifics of recertification.

For additional information, please email certification@iedconline.org