In Evangeline Parish, leaders are working with Southern University to find out how they can make Ville Platte more business-friendly.
"They had a negative article come out last week about Ville Platte being the poorest city in the state," Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine said, referring to a recent USA Today article. "We want to dispel all of that. We’re going to let everybody know all of the good things that we can promote."
To counter the article, Vidrine and Evangeline Parish leaders are working to bring more business to Ville Platte. The first step is getting public opinion about what businesses the parish needs and what problems leaders need to fix.
"We want any type of development," Vidrine said. "Anything that can create jobs for our citizens here and the surrounding areas. We’re looking at strip malls, also manufacturing plants. Any type of businesses that can create a lot of great jobs for citizens and promote our local economy."
Leaders point to the "Ville Platte Industrial Park" as a sign of the city’s potential.
"We’re constantly getting requests for information about that site," Dr. William Ward of the park’s board said. "It’s a very competitive business marketing a site. Ville Platte Iron Works is a new addition. They’re expanding their operations. They started with 12 employees they’re up to 83 employees."
The city is getting some help with their mission. Southern University will analyze data and tell officials what they can do to attract business.
"Transportation is one issue. Second is education," said Ben Lukogo of Southern University. "Once we discover core issues, we will come back to send people to see which way we can go as a community."
Vidrine says she’s hopeful this plan will bring more business to her city.
"We have a lot to offer," Vidrine said. " We want to make sure that we can put everything we have to offer on a showboat."