Dozens moved through the meeting room at Abbeville City Hall on Wednesday, sharing their thoughts on goals that could help the city move toward an even brighter future.

The floating town hall meeting, held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., served as another step in the city’s participation in the Louisiana Development Ready Communities Program (LDRC Program).

“We were contacted by the city to come in and chat with everyone about doing an economic development strategic plan for the city of Abbeville,” said Stacey Neal, Louisiana Economic Development’s director of community competitiveness. “Part of the process has been community surveys.”

Residents participated in a community survey this past summer.

Richard Minvielle participates in Town Hall

“We received great input from the community survey. The many comments received show that residents are passionate about our city.”

Councilwoman Roslyn White, Abbeville LDRC Committee Co-Chair.

Louisiana Economic Development (LED), which led Wednesday’s town hall, pulled five goals from that survey. Those goals included infrastructure, quality of life, economic development, marking/communication and education.

“These things were just glaringly obvious in the survey,” Neal said. “These topics are things that businesses moving into your community are looking at before they get here.

“We’re trying to prioritize these (goals). That way, the administration and economic development officials can know what is important to the community.”

Neal said, from there, LED can help line the city up with available resources that match those goals.

Within the first two hours of opening the meeting on Wednesday, nearly 30 people had already taken part.

“I have sat all day in some communities and not had that many all day,” Neal said. “We’re very impressed. The community has done a really good job.”

Those taking part in the town hall reviewed the bullet points of each of the five goals. From there, participants placed stickers representing their thoughts on the details of the five goals. For example, green and yellow stickers represented “important.” Blue stickers meant “somewhat important.” Red represented “not important.”

“We have a lot of red dots left over,” Neal said, “so that’s a good sign.”

Louisiana Economic Development’s Stacey Neal speaks to partici- pants in Wednesday’s town hall meeting in Abbeville. Robby Abboud, LED’s assistant director of community competitiveness, looks over some of the results.
Participants placed stickers to indicate how important they view each goal.

Participants also had the option to leave sticky notes with additional thoughts and opinions anonymously.

“You have a lot of folks who have a lot to say,” Neal said. “They may not want to say it in public, but they can leave a note and say what they have to say.”

Neal said the results of this process should be finalized by the end of the year or in January. From there, local officials will carry the load.

“Implementation happens on the local level,” Neal said. “We will come in about every six months to make sure that it is being implemented. A lot of communities have taken it and run with it. But, we have also had some communities where nothing has changed.”

From what she has seen so far, Neal doesn’t anticipate Abbeville being a community where “nothing” happens.

“Abbeville has been great,” Neal said. “The community has been involved. We don’t always get that, but this community has been very involved.”

By Shaun Hearen, Originally published in the Abbeville Meridional 11/4/21