Council accepts economic development report

The reconstituted Eunice Economic Development Board asked the City Council for direction and dollars Tuesday night.

Dr. Tony Baltakis, professor at LSU at Eunice elected president by the group at the first of a series of unpublicized meetings beginning last September, outlined five fundamentals it considers essential in selling Eunice.

He asked, and the council agreed, for a response from the city within 30 days, providing the board with insight into what direction the city wishes to proceed.

The five points outlined by Baltakis are job creation, retention and expansion of existing businesses, education and workforce training, Eunice’s unique culture and marketing Eunice’s attractions to the outside world.

Under the heading of job creation, the group feels it is necessary to reduce the cost of doing business in Eunice, including the electronic costs of doing business online.

It also plans to create a list of all public- and privately owned land and buildings that could be used for new business development. Once established, it wants to publish this list on both the city and Eunice Chamber of Commerce’s Web sites.

Regarding retaining existing businesses, the group calls for making it easier to get permits and licenses, including online access. It believes lists of federal, state and local grants and training opportunities need to be compiled and published.

It is also calling on the city, schools and civic organizations to begin offering awards and recognition to local businesses and to promote “shop local” days.

The group believes the city and community need to help build a relationship between Louisiana State University at Eunice, the T.H. Harris technical college and local schools.

The group also believes a public transportation system is critical to allow people to access these training and job opportunities.

In the area of local culture, the panel proposes the city promote the city and surrounding three-parish area with a full-time, paid director of tourism and marketing, and urges the city to more aggressively use the Web to emphasis Eunice’s assets.

The board last month asked the St. Landry Economic and Industrial Development District to consider a financial commitment. SLEDD took the request under advisement.

Balatakis was lightly pessimistic that SLEDD would send any monetary assistance.

The request for city financial assistance comes as the administration begins to pull together requests from various departments for the 2008-09 budget year, which begins July 1, and on the same night Mayor Bob Morris warned of pending budget revisions in response to revenue shortfalls

Chamber of Commerce President Darrin D’Aquinc said that organization endorses the proposal and asked the city to give it full consideration.

Other members of the board are Andre Soileau, David Papillon, James Bergeron, Jr., John Reed, Lance Pitre, Margareta Frey, Tom Dischler, Andrea West, Lee Edwards, John Guillory, Jane Spradling and Dr. Fred Landry.

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