Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser today announced nearly $250,000 dollars in funding for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to increase the scope of a university research project with a goal of increasing economic development in the seafood industry.
The funding, provided by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, will be combined with a USDA Rural Business Development Grant of nearly $250,000 to help researchers expand the study from the initial three parishes to ten coastal Louisiana Parishes. Under the project, researchers had funding to conduct feasibility studies, develop business and community economic development plans, and incorporate leadership and entrepreneurship training to assist small and emerging business within Vermilion, Iberia, and St. Mary Parishes. This additional funding will help expand the study to Cameron, Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and Terrebonne Parishes.
“Seafood is not just an important part of our culture and heritage, it’s a way of life for many families along the Louisiana coast. It is how they make a living and provide for their families,” Nungesser said. “As the nation’s second largest seafood producer, Louisiana produces more than 850 million pounds of seafood every year and is the largest commercial fishery in the contiguous United States. This study will help our seafood suppliers align better with the global marketplace so our coastal communities can realize their potential and be more competitive. This will be a win for our seafood producers and for the state.”
The study, Seafood Economic Development in Underserved Rural Coastal Louisiana Parishes, will evaluate the coastal Louisiana seafood supply chain to build a comprehensive economic development strategy that is grounded in the needs and perspectives of stakeholders who live and work in coastal communities.
Headed by Geoffrey Stewart with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the project will encompass four tasks. First, researchers will conduct a supply chain study, producing a feasibility study explore economic development opportunities in coastal Louisiana evaluating seafood-related businesses and assets, economic development needs, and infrastructure needs.
During the feasibility assessment, researchers will engage key community and business leaders to gain a better understanding of the potential development landscape, studying various economic development approaches and sharing insights on what would be required to expand seafood markets in their communities. Finally, researchers will leverage information gained through the industry/supply chain assessment, engagement of key leaders, and group discussions to draft a community business development plan for coastal Louisiana.
The completion date for the Seafood Economic Development in Underserved Rural Coastal Louisiana Parishes study is expected to be July 31, 2020.