The Alabama Communities of Excellence (ACE) program offers a systematic approach with the necessary technical resources and tools to help Alabama’s small cities promote growth and prosperity by focusing on their distinctive assets and resources. ACE understands the uniqueness of each community, recognizing that every city has different assets, values, concerns and priorities.
ACE was established in 2002. In 2022, ACE became an official program of the Alabama League of Municipalities. ACE provides technical assistance to select communities with populations ranging from 2,000 to 18,000 in an effort to strengthen long-term economic success. Through a comprehensive, three-phase approach, ACE uses the collective expertise of its partner organizations – ranging from state agencies and associations to banks, utilities, universities and others – to foster unique community development programs.
The ACE Team, comprised of technical discipline experts ranging from economic and industrial development to education, healthcare, historic preservation, leadership development, planning, tourism and community development, assists each participating city with developing a vision based on its own unique sensibilities and assets. At its core, ACE principles include the active involvement by community stakeholders across a broad demographic spectrum coupled with development of local leaders and leadership capacity and an emphasis on the importance of developing and implementing short and long-term plans to further the realization of the municipality’s vision. In addition to technical assistance, an Alabama Community of Excellence designation is given to each city that completes the three-phase program.
Communities interested in participating in the ACE program must apply for consideration. Candidates for the ACE program are selected using a competitive application process. At the beginning of each selection process, applications are disseminated to the mayors of those communities having the qualifying population of 2,000 to 18,000.
The main criteria used in selecting ACE participants are: 1) the level of commitment to the ACE program; 2) the community’s capacity to support the ACE program, and 3) the provision of complete and accurate information in the application. ACE also strives to achieve widespread geographic coverage across Alabama.
Once a community has been accepted into the ACE program, it begins with Phase I, known as the assessment phase.