03/03/2017 07:00AM ● Published by Robert Frey
Gallery: Economic Vitals [6 Images] Click any image to expand.
One Acadiana Looks Toward Acadiana’s Economic Future By: One Acadiana
One Acadiana (1A) is the leading economic development organization for the nine-parish Acadiana region located in south Louisiana. With more than 1,200 investors, members and partners, 1A invites you to join us in building a stronger regional business community and economy. The organization is located in the city of Lafayette and, in partnership with other business and civic organizations, serves a region of roughly 700,000 people with a vibrant culture and unique entrepreneurial spirit. Its aim is to make Acadiana “one of the most high quality, sought after regions in the South for enjoying a prosperous career in an idyllic family environment.”
Creating a more vibrant Acadiana economy will require aggressive, focused leadership in two broad areas of activity, both locally and regionally:
• Business development: marketing and sales efforts to secure business location, retention and expansion in our area.
• Product development: public policy and related initiatives to improve the “product” that we are marketing and promoting (our business environment).
That’s why 1A’s work is driven by 3 core strategies:
• Make Acadiana competitive by cultivating a portfolio of regional assets, infrastructure and policies for competitive success.
• Tell our story by strategically marketing and promoting our region to businesses and talent.
• Make it beautiful by revitalizing our region’s core, and leverage that expertise for similar efforts around the region.
How do regional business development initiatives, spearheaded by 1A, support this mission? The regional group is focused on several efforts to that end, thanks to the support of its investors and partners:
• Coordinate 150+ business retention and expansion site visits with existing Acadiana companies (at no cost to them) to learn about the challenges businesses are facing and help them navigate through exploring business expansion opportunities.
• Complete 8-10 targeted lead generation missions outside of the state for business recruitment, based on a Target Industry Strategy that will drive our recruitment efforts for the next 5 years.
• Secure third-party site certification for 3-5 high-quality, development-ready sites in the region, while marketing the portfolio of existing sites and buildings.
• Develop a new external brand for the Acadiana region focused on business attraction as recommended in our Target Industry Strategy.
• Strengthen and maintain external marketing targeted at site selectors and business decision makers, using OneAcadiana.org.
• Maintain talent attraction and retention initiatives targeted at high-skilled professionals.
Businesses across Acadiana can keep their finger on the pulse of the economy through a 1A report that analyzes key economic metrics* that help them understand our regional and state economy. With support from Louisiana Economic Development and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, 1A every month collects data on local businesses, current labor numbers, retail sales information and other economic statistics to put together an “economic vitals” report for the region.
These metrics provide a snapshot of:
• How and where our regional economy has grown or declined.
• The effect of various industries on our region’s employers and employees.
• How our economy compares to other regions in our state and the U.S. overall.
This information is compiled on a 1A nine-parish regional level (including Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Jeff Davis, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Vermilion parishes) where possible; however, there are several data points only available on a five-parish MSA level (including parishes of Acadia, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin and Vermilion). This MSA level data dates back to January 2013 to reflect the current MSA definition established in January 2013.
Here’s what the vitals are showing:
[See more charts in our gallery].
This data is reflective of the negative impact of the downturn of the energy sector on Acadiana’s economy. As illustrated in the data above, Acadiana has experienced higher job losses relative to the rest of the state, due largely to decreases in mining and manufacturing.
How does 1A remain focused forward toward a bright future for Acadiana during bleak economic times? To improve this outlook, the organization is focused on a number of activities that will increase Acadiana’s competitiveness, including:
• Actively marketing the certification of a 64-acre site at the Acadiana Regional Airport, in conjunction with Iberia Economic Development Foundation. The property is located along the 8,000+ ft. runway, offering an attractive site for recruiting aviation companies. Acadiana now has five certified sites (Louisiana Economic Development’s highest tier of certification).
• Working in conjunction with regional partners to implement a Regional Workforce Development Strategy. This collaborative approach outlines five initiatives to meet workforce challenges based on an analysis of data and industry feedback. For a copy of the strategy, go to OneAcadiana.org/RWDS.
• Developing a strong new external brand for the Acadiana region focused on business attraction, based upon a significant finding of the Target Industry Strategy commissioned for our region.
• Working with school districts across Acadiana to accelerate their gains through collaboration with the regional business community. 1A is meeting with superintendents across Acadiana school districts to discuss pockets of excellence. This best-practice sharing is uncovering ways districts can learn from one another – for example, Iberia Parish’s 20-year plan of smart construction of school facilities is a case study for addressing one of Lafayette Parish’s biggest competitive challenges, namely the unsustainable practice of using temporary classrooms where a permanent solution is needed (the Lafayette Parish School System has nearly 500 temporary buildings, including many in severe disrepair).
• Building support for the I-49 Lafayette Connector project through the Connect Lafayette Coalition, a diverse group of 13 community organizations, which support the I-49 Lafayette Connector. Acadiana is better positioned than ever to achieve the region’s #1 priority of completing I-49 South from Lafayette to New Orleans, which will provide a vital link for “America’s Energy Corridor” and provide a game-changing investment for the Acadiana area.
Find out more ways One Acadiana is focused on forward at OneAcadiana.org
*Data resources include LED, LEDA, the Louisiana Workforce Commission, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, MLS, Louisiana Department of Revenue, and the Lafayette Regional Airport.