All great communities have something in common, they support their existing business base. Since Vermilion Parish is a great community, we put first things first and started our Business Visitation Program before any other initiative (in April of 2015). Since then, VEDA has met with hundreds of businesses in an effort to create a solid foundation of well-prepared entreprenuers and decision makers. What started as a suggestion from a 2012 report issued to the Police Jury (A Vision and A Task: An Action Agenda For The Vermilion Parish Economy) has become the lifeblood of the organization. The program not only prepares businesses to take advantage of new opportunities and assists them in solving issues with operations, but it also prepares our organization with the understanding we need to effectively build programming.
In our experience, small businesses are armed with folks who are great at delivering their unique products or services, but often lack the training on the ins and outs of actually running the business. That’s where we come in. Using information collected from our visitations, we coordinate quarterly Business Tune-Ups. These professional development sessions are taught by subject matter experts and are available at no cost to the business community! Being a lifelong learner is a hallmark of a good business owner, don’t get left behind!
Spending dollars locally can have a major impact on the economy. Disposable income spent at local establishments or with local service providers contribute to an improved quality of life through increased tax dollars and the ability to retain local employees. This program takes that concept one step further by sharing ways for residents to experience the civic and social side of the parish, also. Building community pride and sustaining the things we love about Vermilion are just a few of the goals of this multi-organization effort.
Founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) is the nationwide movement helps bring attention to the importance of supporting small businesses in communities across America.
As a Neighborhood Champion, the Alliance spreads the word about how important shopping local can be and also connects local businesses to available resources. If you’d like to find out more or take advantage of the Shop Small & Small Business Saturday materials, please let us know!
After Vermilion’s first parish-wide job fair in March of 2016, local civic leaders and workforce partners wanted to create a dedicated pathway to employers and job seekers. Using funds earmarked for workforce development, the Vermilion at Work initiative was designed and crafted. Vermilion at Work is an over-arching brand for employment services of all kinds, assisting those seeking career opportunities or employees in Vermilion Parish.
In 2019, Vermilion launched the 55 by 25 Initiative, an effort to increase the educational attainment of the workforce in Acadiana. With four comprehensive focus areas – kindergarten readiness, 3rd grade reading, post-secondary enrollment, and industry credentialing – 55 by 25 arms our parish with tools to improve the marketability of our labor pool.
The inaugural Vermilion Parish Job Fair was hosted in March of 2016 by workforce, economic development, and chamber partners from around the region. Over 700 job seekers had the opportunity to local available positions at 50 participating employer locations.
Each year we co-host the annual fair during K-12 Spring Break week (Wednesday) at Abbeville High School. Pre-events for jobseekers and employers are held leading up to this date.
In 2012, parties interested in pursuing economic development efforts commissioned a study to develop a plan for growth. One recommendation was to develop brands for Vermilion’s agricultural products. In pursuing this effort, the Alliance has begun working with cattleman with the hopes we can attract outside investment and grow local investment in missing or lost cattle processing models. The idea is to replicate the model with other products in agricultural, aquaculture and fisheries.
We want to give the business community every opportunity to help local civic or charitable organizations and reap the benefits of doing so. For that reason, we’ve partnered with the Christian Service Center to create a Vermilion Parish Community Organization Directory.
Once it’s published individuals and businesses can use it as a “giving guide” and a way to access service opportunities right here at home. Service organizations can use it as a way to communicate their values and mission and find volunteers and supporters.
Adapted from our “business walk” program, Destination Downtown aims to shine a light on opportunities that exist in a specific town’s downtown district. These urban centers are traditionally the economic centers of both commerce and municipal activities, but without nurturing, can lose the vibrancy of yesterday’s “main street” feel due to modern factors like sprawl and big box retail development. Our economic development advocates partner with local governments, business owners, and residents to attract local and external investment by showcasing available spaces, cultural events, and existing redevelopment in a community open-house-style event.
Partnering with local elected officials, the economic development office conducts “business walks.” Business walks have proven highly effective in strengthening local economies by retaining businesses in a community and creating an environment where they can grow. Companies can range from large employers, to the local mom-and-pop establishments and everything in between. Business leaders and “walkers” pose questions and get feedback on economic conditions, what local owners enjoy about doing business in the area, and how business could be improved.
Acadiana Day is an annual event that brings together economic developers, chambers of commerce, tourist commissions, and Acadiana advocates to celebrate what makes our region special. The Acadiana legislative delegation and Governor are invited to share updates from the most recent session and hear about important issues and projects for the upcoming year. The event usually takes place in the Spring session (between March & May).
*The Alliance’s Executive Director, Anne Falgout, was the 2016 Chair of the event through her service as the 2016 Chair of Acadiana Regional Alliance
The Acadiana Women’s Network is committed to building a professional network that will serve women in Acadiana throughout their careers. We are focused on creating a platform for robust conversations and providing access to mentors and experts that can help you maximize your leadership role in business and civic communities across our region. Our aim is to facilitate a balance between sharing information, addressing the opportunities and challenges women face, and inspiring women to take action.
Project Front Yard is an initiative which brings together individuals, business, government and media partners to address community beautification through education. Project Front Yard’s mission is to build awareness and stimulate improvement of the face of our local community. Initiatives under Project Front Yard include revitalization of gateways, improved streetscapes, litter removal and prevention, public art, river cleanup, and education.