The Vermilion Economic Development Alliance has one obvious goal.

While there are several steps in the process of growing the economy in Vermilion Parish, one of the major aspects is knowing the faces involved in the local business community.

Anne Falgout, executive director of the Economic Development Alliance, said meeting the people who make business go is a major initiative for her organization this year.

“One of the big things is relationship building,” Falgout said during a meeting last week with the members of the young professionals group, FUEL Vermilion. “Involvement is key. If we are not talking to businesses constantly, how are we going to know what is going on?”

One of the ways Falgout said that is done is by face-to-face meetings.

“We do business visitations,” Falgout said. “That’s were we sit down one-onone with the business owner. We ask them what is going on with their business. Some have issues with growth, utilities and fi nding and keeping employees. Those are the things we fi nd out in those direct visitations.”

Falgout explained a new twist on those direct meetings with businesses.

“We are going to start something new for Vermilion Parish,” Falgout said. “This is something that people can be involved in. We are going to do something called business walks. We are going to take areas of businesses that are similar because of where they are, like a geographic similarity. We are going to group them together and visit them.” Falgout said the likely start to this effort will be a somewhat overlooked section of Erath. I have been talking to Mayor (John Earl) Leblanc in Erath,” Falgout said.

“We are going to do an old Highway 14 business walk. When the By-pass came through, it did amazing things for the parish. It did horrible things for Erath. All those businesses on old 14 lost all that traffic. We are going to spend a day there.

We have some people identifi ed to join us for a business walk team. “We are going to meet with these businesses to see how things are going and to see what they need.”

Falgout said her of- fi ce will follow up with the businesses. “We are going to open the lines of communication,” she said. Along with the Erath area, downtown Abbeville and Cushing Boulevard in Kaplan are expected to be part of the business walk.

“Sometimes you just have to open and idea to build momentum for these businesses,” Falgout said. “That’s what we are going to try to do. We are very excited about this. “We want to help businesses get their name out there.”

Shaun Hearen, Abbeville Meridional