Robideaux Unveils Initiative to Capitalize on Culture
Claire Taylor, email@example.com 9:30 p.m. CT March 30, 2017
Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, at his annual address Thursday, unveiled an initiative to market and capitalize on Lafayette's culture.
Robideaux launched the CREATE Initiative -- Culture, Recreation, Entertainment, Arts, Tourism and Economy -- as part of his Robideaux Report at the Heymann Center for Performing Arts.
CREATE will be a parishwide interagency multi-year project to expand and grow the cultural economy. How do we do this? Robideaux said he doesn't know yet, but he and others working together will figure it out.
Nashville became the Country Music Capital because "they just made it up," Robideaux said. Lafayette already is rich with a food and music culture. "We don't even have to make it up."
Lafayette is home to more Grammy award winners than any other city in the state except New Orleans, and it's only three behind the Crescent City, Robideaux said.
The city also is unique in its ability to accommodate tech companies because of the high-speed internet service offered through Lafayette Utilities System's Fiber, but it competes with other cities like Austin and Chattanooga for those companies and jobs, he said.
"We have to do whatever we can to parlay what we have," Robideaux said, "to make us that place where these companies are going to want to move."
While Lafayette Parish has some great recreational facilities and programs, it lacks a parish tax to support recreation and parks, making it difficult to offer the things Baton Rouge and Chattanooga do, he said.
Creating an attractive gateway into Lafayette via University Avenue was one of the first goals Robideaux announced when he took office in January 2016. Some money to start aesthetic improvements like planting trees and building sidewalks will be available with the next bond issue. It will be a long-term project, though, he said.
In his response to The Robideaux Report, City-Parish Council Chairman Kenneth Boudreaux noted that Louisiana Avenue and Ambassador Caffery Parkway also are gateways to Lafayette from the interstates and are equally important. Louisiana Avenue also is in a neglected area that would benefit from an economic infusion, he said.
Another of Robideaux's top initiatives, and arguably his most popular one, has been to turn the Lafayette animal shelter into a no-kill operation. The city partnered with the nonprofit Target Zero to minimize the euthanisia of cats and dogs, hired an adoption coordinator and implemented adoption hours in the evenings and Saturdays, he said, but it's a slow process.
Boudreaux said he supports the no kill shelter initiative but his community desires a no kill initiative as well to stop the killing of boys. More needs to be done to battle crime and drugs, including the creation of quality jobs and improving schools in high-poverty neighborhoods, he said.