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St. Mary Parish municipalities collaborate to become newest participants in statewide program

Posted: 3:21 PM, Nov 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-06 16:22:46-05
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MORGAN CITY, La. - Louisiana Economic Development (LED) recognized Morgan City and Berwick on Wednesday as the state's newest Louisiana Development Ready Communities. Mayors Frank Grizzaffi of Morgan City and Duval Arthur Jr. of Berwick accepted the awards from LED Secretary Don Pierson during a St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Morgan City and Berwick entered the program together after collaborating with St. Mary Excel and other St. Mary Parish stakeholders on a joint master plan for economic growth. The two municipalities are located on opposite banks of the Atchafalaya River, connected by the U.S. 90 and Louisiana Highway 182 bridges.

"It's always encouraging for our local communities to take the initiative to prepare themselves for economic growth, and for two neighboring communities to work together toward that goal is a bonus," Secretary Pierson said. "Participants in the Louisiana Development Ready Communities Program focus on strategies to become more competitive for attracting new business investment and quality jobs. We applaud Morgan City and Berwick for their efforts, and we welcome them to the LDRC Program."

Now in its 11th year, the Louisiana Development Ready Communities Program guides selected communities through the creation and implementation of a strategic plan. By following the plan for multiple years, LDRC participants become more competitive in attracting growth to their communities.

"This is a tremendous opportunity, not only for Morgan City and Berwick, but for the entire parish," Morgan City's Mayor Grizzaffi said. "We look forward to the benefits LDRC certification will provide."

The addition of Morgan City and Berwick brings to 42 the number of Louisiana municipalities that have earned the LDRC designation. Additional communities in the state are working toward certification at this time.

"I am excited and proud to learn that LED has recognized Morgan City, Berwick and St. Mary Excel for their efforts to improve economic development for our communities and our parish," Berwick's Mayor Arthur said. "Thank you, Louisiana Economic Development."

St. Mary Excel raised more than $135,000 to commission a 2018 study by the Urban Land Institute on ways the two municipalities could work together to diversify the St. Mary Parish economy. That study gave them a head start toward certification as Louisiana Development Ready Communities.

"It has been a great collaboration," St. Mary Excel Committee Chair Dr. Monica Mancuso said. "It's nice to have strategies we can all work together to implement in each of our different roles."

The LDRC Program encourages municipalities to devise and implement a written plan to leverage assets and address their particular challenges. A typical community plan includes strategies to address education, workforce development, infrastructure, leadership, marketing and communications.

The process enables participating communities to chart their progress from year to year, even across changes in political administrations. Once a municipality is accepted into the program, it must implement six elements of its plan within a year.

For more information about the LDRC Program, visit the LED website [info.opportunitylouisiana.com] or contact LED Director of Community Competitiveness Stacey Neal at stacey.neal@la.gov or 225.342.4703.