This year’s EXCEL Class found themselves immersing into Economic Development for their 3rd session of the 2023 program! The class was greeted by Katie Chiasson, Chiasson Consulting and the founder of Leadership EXCEL upon arriving at the Cleco – ULL Alternative Energy Center, a facility conducting research on natural waste products, like rice hulls and wood chips, and converting it into clean energy.
Stacy Duvac, Director of Community Competitiveness & Robbie Abboud, Assistance Director, Community Competitiveness for Louisiana Economic Development (LED) followed as they briefed the group on the basics of Economic Development and how communities are achieving success through it. After, Dr. Mark Zappi, Executive Director of the Energy Institute of Louisiana discussed the collaborative partnerships for economic growth—specifically through higher educational research. The group finished the morning off with a tour of the Alternative Energy facility with Dr. Kary Ritter III, director of the facility!
Over lunch, Danny Nugier of Supreme Rice spoke to the class about the milling process and the economic impact of the rice industry not only locally, but internationally. The class was also able to tour the Supreme Rice shipping department while onsite.
The group then went down the street to tour JohnPac Manufacturing, a facility right here in Acadia Parish that manufactures small and bulk woven polypropylene bags for the local and global market. Taylor Gray gave a full tour of the facility, from start to finish of bag production. It was great for the class to see the same bags they just watched getting filled with rice at Supreme, getting made just down the road at JohnPac!
The class ended their day at JT Meleck Distillers/Fruge Aquafarms where what started as a humble rice farm 5 generations ago evolved into a nationwide seafood distributor and more recently a maker of rice vodka and whiskey. They were given a great history and tour of this family run business by Mia Fruge Albaugh.
Putting a nice bow on the day, Megan Duhon, President/CEO at Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce and Emile Lege, Manager of Business Development at One Acadiana, capitalizing on Economic Development and One Acadiana’s efforts to promote & grow the 9-parish service area as well as a wrap up of the day.
Leadership EXCEL stands for Experience in Community, Enterprise and Leadership. The program is designed to prepare emerging leaders to meet the future leadership needs of our community. Through the exchange of viewpoints and experiences, participants are exposed to the challenges, opportunities, and vital issues affecting Acadia and Jeff Davis parishes.
The EXCEL program is hosted by the Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Jeff Davis Chamber of Commerce and thanks to the following sponsors, the Leadership EXCEL program is possible. The 2023 Sponsors are as follows: This program would not be possible without the generous support of its sponsors: First National Bank, Home Bank, Acadia Parish Farm Bureau, Acadia Parish Police Jury, Acadia St. Landry Hospital, Bank of Commerce, First Guaranty Bank, Ochsner Acadia General Health Center – Crowley, Bryan Comeaux, South Central Insurance Brokers, Elder outreach, Platinum realty- Michael doughty and Rayne Building + Loan.