Local Government Academies


A Local Government Academy or Institute is a program of classes, offered by a community college, intended for employees and elected and appointed officials of localities in that college’s service region. These programs are sometimes called Local Government Academies or Local Government Institutes.

The structure of a Local Government Academy will vary depending on the needs of the locality(ies) involved. Here are some possible formats:

  • an open-enrollment program offering several semester-long classes designed for all levels of employees from localities in a specific region;
  • an open-enrollment, one-day seminar of morning and/or afternoon classes for employees and elected officials; or
  • a one-day class offered at the request of a locality for selected employees.
Classes are held either at the college; onsite at a local government training facility; or at a regional educational center, like the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.


A college’s Workforce Development or Business and Industry Center works with human resources directors and administrators of area local governments to determine the curriculum. The program’s focus can be diverse, covering core skills like customer service, supervising employees, and communication; leadership development; and specialized knowledge, such as emergency management and land-use regulations. Topics are selected based on the expressed needs of the localities.


The Institute’s involvement can include participating in curriculum discussions; enlisting trainers who specialize in developing classes for and delivering training to local governments; acting as liaison between the community college and the locality; identifying sources to assist with content development; and providing general advice.


At least four community colleges have held formalized local-employee development programs: Eastern Shore, Germanna, Lord Fairfax, and Virginia Highlands.

“Next to manufacturing, the largest employment segment in our service region is state and local government,” said Beth Duffield, workforce development coordinator for the Center for Business & Industry (CBI) at Virginia Highlands Community College. “We believe that great opportunities exist to provide training at a price and quality that only the community college system and partners, such as the Virginia Institute of Government and the Mount Rogers Planning District, can provide.”

CBI will hold its second Local Government Institute on October 28, 2008 in Abingdon. The first conference, which took place in June 2008, was underwritten by an Institutes of Excellence Grant from the Virginia Community College System. “We hope to hold at least two Local Government Institutes each year,” said Duffield.

If the Virginia Institute of Government can help you connect with your local community college, please contact Billie Easton at 804/371-0202 or bee2u@virginia.edu.

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