What makes a community attractive to business and potential talent is often one in the same. People want fulfilling places to work, opportunities to explore and to be in quality cities. Although these elements can be difficult to quantify, they are integral to an individual’s quality of life and to a city’s economic growth. What is it that makes a community someplace people want to live? What makes a community attractive to new business?
More and more, the key to our attraction and retention efforts lies in community sustainability. Sustainability no longer only refers to environmental factors. By addressing sustainability as the continuation of resources to the same degree or better for future generations, we are developing a new approach to our relationships with the environment, our society and our economy. We are making great strides toward a holistic vision of a sustainable community in Lafayette. Yes, there’s still room for improvement, but we have a strategic community plan for the future (LCG Comprehensive Plan) and the passionate government and civic leaders needed to implement it.
Gallup released a poll measuring residents’ overall attachment to their communities. The poll included questions about city services and infrastructure, civic involvement, emotional wellness, openness of the community and social connectivity between families and neighbors. Researchers found a positive correlation between high community attachment and growth of the local GDP and population. It’s this high level of community pride that is a driving force for positive economic growth and talent attraction.
How can Lafayette become a sustainable community — one that can attract and keep talent, offer job opportunities for our graduates and bring back former residents to reinvest their talent and raise their families here? How can we mold and train the next generation of the workforce and keep them in the region?
As LEDA continues to broaden its efforts in building a sustainable community, our staff has been working with allies across the region. Here are a few projects that are in the works:
• Anti-litter and beautification efforts through Project Front Yard, spearheaded by Lafayette Consolidated Government
• Development of the greenspace at the Horse Farm by Lafayette Central Park
• Neighborhood pride projects and enhancements by the Evangeline Gateway Corridor team
• Beautification efforts in the city’s core by Scenic Lafayette
• Cleaning of coulees and waterways by Bayou Vermilion District
• Restriping initiatives by LCG and DOTD to give more opportunities to walk and bike in the city
• Downtown revitalization by the Downtown Development Authority
• Locally sourced food awareness by Acadiana Food Alliance
• Bike share program at UL Lafayette
Once implemented, these projects will help transform Lafayette into a cleaner, greener, more pedestrian-friendly city leading to a healthier community and an increase in the overall quality of life in Lafayette Parish.
In this spirit, now is a time for collaboration, a time for beautification, a time for reinvestment. We can build a sustainable community by cultivating our existing strengths, exploring new opportunities, nurturing regional partnerships and responding collaboratively and positively to change.
A community cannot remain stagnant; it either grows or dies.
Gregg Gothreaux is president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.