A yearlong national search for an executive director for the newly formed Vermilion Parish Economic Development District honed in on an Abbeville native who was ultimately selected to help spur growth in her home parish.
Anne Falgout, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette alumna, is no stranger to the kind of experience a leadership position requires. She grew up immersed in it.
“We didn’t live in the type of household where, ‘That’s not my job,’ ‘That’s someone else’s problem,’ or ‘I can’t change it, so why even try,’ were phrases that were ever used or accepted,” she said.
Falgout began her career at the Lafayette Economic Development Authority 13 years ago as a college intern in government procurement, working with the Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center.
She soon joined the LEDA staff as a full-time research associate and rose through the organization’s ranks over the next 12 years, serving as research coordinator before being promoted to director of market intelligence and quality manager.
“We all wore several hats,” Falgout said, “and I was lucky enough to work on the administrative side, helping the staff with their professional development efforts, organizational process management and with the business community.”
She said her “nerdy side” was satisfied with just researching statistics all day, but she eventually earned the ability to represent the organization in a variety of facets outside the office. That, she says, is where her love of community and economic development was born.
Paul Bourgeois, a Vermilion Parish police juror who led the push to create the parish’s new economic development office, said he believes Falgout is the right person to fill the leadership position.
“She has ties to the community and the experience — all the ingredients to make it work,” he said.
Bourgeois said the concept of economic development needs to be carried out.
After raising more than $600,000 to implement it, he said he hopes “to see good things happen to this community.”
“It’s time,” he said. “Look at all the parishes around us and how they are going because they have people to help them. We need that, and we need to keep what we have and then grow it. Vermilion Parish is a healthy community, but we want to make it better.”
Falgout said her immediate goal in the new position is to create a brand for the economic development group and the parish, and that she plans to use “talent and relationships more than flash and cash” in building up the economic development group.
Falgout’s parents, Jerry and Kathie Terpening, are involved locally as business owners.
Her grandfather, Emery “Bichon” Toups, was instrumental in the growth and development of several Vermilion Parish businesses, many of which weren’t even his own.
He invested in entrepreneurs, civic organizations and the betterment of the community he loved, Falgout said.
Falgout, a mother of three, also is involved in other civic groups that aim to better the Acadiana community, includingINNOV8 and the Leadership Institute of Acadiana.
She is entering her fifth year with the705, an organization for young leaders in Acadiana, and recently was appointed president of the group.
“Consistency and accountability are words I want to be associated with our organization,” she said. “It’s no accident we chose www.developvermilion.org as our Web address. We’re sending a message that we’re ready to make things happen.”
JESSICA MANA, THE ACADIANA ADVOCATE