Adam Daigle, Business Editor of The Acadiana Advocate, joined Discover Lafayette to look back at the biggest news of 2021. While we have all continued to deal with the effects of COVID in our workplaces and schools this year, the economy has done remarkedly well. Sales tax collections in the City and Parish of Lafayette have been the highest on record as people spend monies left over from the PPE funding as we emerge from the lockdown. While employers may still be having trouble finding enough employees, the demand for services and goods has skyrocketed. One of the biggest stories this year is the announcement of SafeSource Direct, a partnership between Ochsner Health with Trax Development to manufacture and distribute personal protection equipment. The joint venture is investing $150 million to retrofit an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Lafayette Parish and a new 400,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in St. Martin Parish. The projects are expected to create over 1200 total new jobs between the facilities, a huge win for our region and a big step to decreasing U. S. dependence on foreign countries supplying our healthcare needs. SafeSource Direct, a partnership between Ochsner Health and Trax Development, is investing to create two manufacturing facilities to create PPE, expected to create 1200 new jobs. A big win for travelers is the upcoming completion of the Lafayette Airport nears substantial completion. Setting the standard on how to fund construction with a combination of federal and state dollars, coupled with a short-term (eight month) sales tax imposed locally, the project is moving along on pace to open in January 2022. The new Lafayette Airport is expected to open in January 2022, setting the standard for how to accomplish funding and construction in the way officials promised taxpayers. Adam shared that when he moved here in 2018, much of the business reporting centered on developments in the corridor surrounding River Ranch in South Lafayette, but not so much now. While there is buzz about Chick Fil-A moving over to the old Red Robin building near CostCo as well as the German-owned Aldi Supermarket chain coming to Lafayette (one just about completed on Ambassador Caffery, with another two stores planned on Ambassador and near Louisiana Avenue), there hasn't been big news in that South Lafayette region. Sneaker Politics' Derek Curry recently announced that he and two partners will be developing a $50 million mixed-use, retail, residential, and entertainment project on Johnston Street near the corner of Mount Vernon Road. This is important news for one of the older areas of Lafayette which has lay dormant for years. Curry has been extremely successful with Sneaker Politics and announced his excitement about redeveloping this abandoned shopping center as a way to bring commerce back to the heart of Lafayette. Pictured are Jim Keaty, Derek Curry, Alex Luna, and Terry Crochet at the announcement of The Forum, a mixed-use development planned on Johnston Street at Mount Vernon. Photo by Leslie Westbrook of the Advocate. Lafayette Economic Development Authority announced big news with the hiring of Mandi Mitchell who replaced longtime CEO Gregg Gothreaux. Mandi has worked for years with Louisiana Economic Development, all while commuting from her hometown of Lafayette. We welcome Mandi and look forward to watching her use her talents and business acumen to continue to promote new development while taking care of existing businesses who keep our economy going. The Amazon Fulfillment Center in Carencro seems to be a reality! While Adam said there has not been an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, the 1.1 million square facility seems to be bustling with activity. An online search for jobs at Amazon at the facility cites high paying wages and a potential $3,000 bonus for new employees. Laurel Hess has been making the news the last couple of years for his business...
More episodes from "Discover Lafayette"
Adam Zayor, CEO of FlyGuys, Nationwide Drone Services
36:38Adam Zayor, CEO of FlyGuys, an aerial drone services company based in Lafayette, LA, is our guest. Attention to all angel investors....only 8% of commercial industries are currently using drone technology. The potential for dramatic increases in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, known as drones, is mind-boggling. Fly Guys operates in all 50 states, in 72 countries worldwide, with over 4500 qualified and vetted contract drone pilots doing the work. It has 17 full-time employees overseeing operations and has experienced exponential annual growth of 200% per year for the past three years. FlyGuys operates in a model similar to Uber; the company is responsible for contracting all jobs, and the pilots have their own drone equipment. "Our business is theoretically infinitely scalable in that we don't incur costs until we have revenue coming in from a confirmed job. Contract pilots range from full-time professionals handling large scale jobs to part-time hobbyists who will capture footage for a commercial real estate site." The majority of FlyGuys' clients are large-scale companies that need consistent data collected across the country, such as telecom companies installing cell towers. In this example, the towers need to be inspected periodically, especially when adding equipment upgrades. FlyGuys scans 500 to 1000 towers every month or two, taking imagery at different elevations. The engineers at the telecom company can pull together dimensions from the data collected and build-out designs for new devices utilizing AutoCAD (commercial computer-aided design and drafting software), thereby accurately engineering new devices. Adam Zayor started his company in 2017 with two employees while he kept his day job with Cajun Constructors where he worked in heavy industrial project management. It was on that job in Lake Charles, while working on the SASOL project, that he was introduced to drone services. Cajun Constructors would utilize drone aerial footage to obtain imagery for marketing purposes; Adam realized quickly that the technology could be used for much, much more in handling dangerous and tedious tasks typically handled by human labor. "From a young age, I always knew I wanted to be in business. I loved building and creating things. I have to say, I wasn't as scared (about starting FlyGuys) as I should have been! I was a little blind about all the effort and the emotional toll that goes into starting a business. Especially one I was trying to drive in a new industry." Adam Zayor when asked about his thoughts on jumping in full-time to run FlyGuys. With his background in construction management overseeing up to 2000 employees at one time, Adam explained that drones can now replace project managers who walk sites three to four times per week to monitor progress. With a drone, you can capture orthomosaic images, which are high-resolution aerial images similar to Google-earth views, where you can zero in to analyze work in progress, all from the comfort of your office and computer. Drones were first used for industrial flare stack inspections to get footage a worker couldn't access by a crane. Today, as emerging software is being developed, it seems that the sky's the limit (pun intended!) for the usage of drone technology. Pictures of Downtown Lafayette taken by a drone on the day of our interview by JP Juneau of FlyGuys The agriculture industry is projected to be the biggest user of drones, but it is still early in the game. Drones can assist in precision agriculture by detecting the height of plants, the health of the plants, and projected crop yield, all allowing accurate financial metrics to be computed. By detecting pests and diseases using multispectral cameras, the farmer can quickly gain insight into how to care for the plants and ensure accurate watering. The drone will fly as close as 5 feet to the plants and up to 400 feet overhead, depending upon the data needed.
Jackie Lyle, Executive Director of PASA -Performing Arts Serving Acadiana
1:00:12Jackie Lyle, Executive Director of Performing Arts Serving Acadiana, known as "PASA," joins Discover Lafayette to discuss the organization's mission to provide local access to great performing arts. Jackie has worked tirelessly over the past three decades to bring unique arts programming to Acadiana. She is a passionate spokesperson for the many ways art impacts our economy, from hiring people in transportation, printing, recording, and sound, live musicians, costumers, etc. "It's vital that this industry recovers. We have got to be in venues and selling tickets" to thrive and survive. A native of Oberlin, Louisiana, Jackie moved to Lafayette at seven years of age and followed the stereotypical path of a young girl in the 70s. She had always loved dancing, playing the piano, and being a band member; while she loved the arts, Jackie says she never had the confidence to pursue a career as a professional performer so she graduated in Psychology from LSU. She never intended to work, but to be a wife and mother. However, upon returning home from college, her dad said, "Jackie, you need a job with health benefits!" Always the dutiful daughter, Jackie followed her dad's advice and became a Clairol account executive, which gave her great sales training, and the opportunity to learn the ropes of business activities. Her next career move landed her in a full-time job as an account executive with the Times of Acadiana, a start-up periodical. She had the opportunity to work with James Edmunds, Steve May, and Richard Baudoin, all well-known names in the publishing business in this region. Jackie credits this position with helping her understand how the government and community forces worked, and the management team constantly challenged her to do new things and spread her wings. By the end of her tenure with the Times of Acadiana, she led a sales team, had her own publication, and wrote a weekly column for the Times. She was ready to fly successfully on her own. At that time, in the early 1980s, Lafayette's art scene was enriched by the productions presented by the Fine Arts Foundation which began in 1975. The non-profit brought in such renowned artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Rudolph Nureyev, and Gregory Hines. But with the oil and gas bust of the late 1980s, the Heymann Center closing for renovations, and the failure of the organization to pay its taxes, the Fine Arts Foundation folded and filed for bankruptcy in the late 1980s. From this aftermath, PASA (originally known as the "Performing Arts Society of Acadiana") emerged under the helm of Jackie Lyle. Jackie looked back with pride on the impact that her work has had over the years, including having PASA hired to help with the opening of the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge and the Grand Opera House of the South in Crowley. "PASA's goal is to provide local access to great performing arts. That is our #1 goal. Great performing arts you can attend locally is what makes a community great. This does not mean sold-out performances or making "x" amount of money. Our mission is local access. When we are able to return to daytime performances for local students, that will be the most important thing that we can do. So many kids never have the opportunity to step foot in the Heymann. That is a transformative experience as many kids have never seen a grand piano played. We also now have a trailer that will be our local stage to bring performances into neighborhoods. As soon as cold weather ends, we'll be going into three different neighborhoods." PASA has also commissioned new works, which means supporting the creation of original performances of song and dance by providing direction and financing. PASA's first such work involved telling the story of the settlement of the first Acadians in our region. This pivotal work is still actively touring after more than 27 years. PASA is currently working on a new piece of commissioned work which will premiere in Denver on Septe...
Kay Couvillon – Lifelong Educator and Student Life Coach
45:05Kay Couvillon, a student life coach, joins Discover Lafayette to discuss her experiences in education and how she came to love coaching. A teacher with 46 years of experience, Kay earned a Masters's in Education, plus an additional 30 hours in education from USL, now UL-Lafayette. She has taught all grade levels, including gifted education, in Vermilion, Iberia, Lafayette, and Acadia parishes. She got her start in 1976 after graduating as part of a class of 500 in Education, looking to get hired at one of the two teacher openings in her home parish of Vermilion. She landed the job of teaching the only class of 5th graders at E. Broussard Elementary which was named after her great, great grandfather, Ernest Broussard; her 10-year-old brother, Jude, was a student in the class of 36 pupils. "Most 5th graders are cool. They're a pleasure to be around. I discovered how much they wanted to learn and about their hopes for the future." Kay reminisced about how different teaching was back then when all the parents were wonderfully supportive. Principal Ray Allen Faulk handed Kay just two things as she began her work....a grade book and a wooden paddle. The paddle was only pulled out once and as Kay said, "I only used the paddle once, not to hit the child but the wall. A student did something and I saw I needed to react. I took her outside and told her 'When I hit the wall with the paddle you scream. The student waited and hollered and we went back in. For the rest of the year, the discipline was amazing! I knew I was never going to hit her." Kay had the opportunity to study how to teach gifted academic students through pioneers in the industry, Dr. Joseph Renzulli and Sally Reese of the University of Connecticut. They created a summer camp program for teachers in the field and sent them back to their home states filled with enthusiasm for this method and practice of teaching. Kay believes that all kids are gifted, just in different areas. In gifted programs, the teachers integrate emotional intelligence as much as possible in the program as they realize its importance for success in life outside of school. In 2004, Kay opened her life coaching practice where she offers a space of listening and discovery of life plans. Currently, she serves as an academic mentor in the athletic department of ULL and has worked with athletes in football, track and basketball who need guidance beyond tutoring. She teaches them the importance of keeping their word, being accountable, reporting in, and keeping their scholarship. "We all have similar needs of wanting to be loved, acknowledged, and appreciated. When coaching, I start with a question, 'What's up?' because many teens feel lectured to and not listened to. Until they can think about what's up for them, they don't know what direction to go, or if they are going in the direction they want to be going in. I've learned over life that about 90% of learning takes place over conversations between people. It's so important that I listen because that is the greatest gift you can give someone. And I've learned that once you move past your fear, there is a reward on the other side." Kay shares, "I'm so impressed with UL-Lafayette as the school wants the students to achieve academically and to succeed in life. When Coach Napier arrived, I asked, 'What do you think of Coach?' They all said, 'Coach Napier really likes us and wishes us well.' They didn't talk football, but how he wanted to be there with them. This is so important in life, to let others know we want to be there, that we like them, respect them, love them." Kay Couvillon and her husband, Glenn Jaubert, are big supporters of UL-Lafayette athletic programs! The world is changing so fast that Kay has seen students declare their major and by the time they graduate, that career may be obsolete. Once a student graduates, it is up to them to make decisions on their own.
Conrad Comeaux, Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor, Discusses How Local Government is Funded
1:03:10Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor Conrad Comeaux joins Discover Lafayette to explain how taxes are levied and collected. Who pays for what? How is your home’s value assessed? This all really hits home when you get that bill in the mail. Serving as Tax Assessor since 2001, Conrad previously served on the Lafayette Parish Council from 1984 to 1996. A native of Scott, he graduated from USL, now UL-Lafayette, with degrees in biology and chemistry, and received a master's degree in health administration from Tulane University. He has been active in incorporating technology to help his office more efficiently serve the public, and was the first assessor in the state to put property values online and the first in Lafayette Parish to produce a digital map of ownership parcels. He views the office as non-political and says "we are there to do a job." While many people may think that the Tax Assessor sets tax millages and collects taxes, in fact, his office is only involved in determining the value of three things: land, buildings, and "extra features" that affect value (such as fencing, pools, and tennis courts). So when you receive your tax bills, they are coming from the Sheriff and local municipalities, not the Assessor. Louisiana's tax system differs from other states in the manner in which taxes are calculated. In most states the land and improvements are combined to reach a value; here, we separate out features of the property (i.e., the land is valued separately from the improvements) and taxed at different rates. Land and residential buildings are assessed at 10% of their market value; commercial buildings are assessed at 15% of market value. In a similar vein of Louisiana being different, in other states, property taxes are typically the biggest generator of local revenue; here, it is sales taxes. Millages collected throughout Lafayette Parish are very low compared to other parishes in Louisiana. In some years. Lafayette Parish millages are half of those collected in St. Tammany Parish. In fact, St. Tammany Parish school taxes are as high as what we are assessed for all Parish functions. It can be challenging to assess residences in neighborhoods with a wide range of values, and he gave an example of how homes on the front end of Kim Drive vary greatly in value from those closer to the Vermilion River. Conrad's office does "mass appraising," meaning that they look at values within a subdivision, or streets within a subdivision, not each individual home. However, his office is provided with a copy of each Act of Cash Sale filed at the courthouse and they utilize the value listed on the sale as a frame of reference. If you disagree with the assessed value of your home, Conrad encourages you to call his office at (337)291-7080 to bring it to his attention. It will be adjusted if they find a mistake (such as an overestimation of total square footage). Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor Conrad Comeaux will inform the councils of local governments on tax revenues and the implications of their decisions on their votes to maintain or raise millages. Their decisions can have a long-term impact on ensuring adequate levels of funding for mandated government services. Reassessments are typically done every four years. The Assessor's office will examine sales around a particular time frame to update values. As an example, for the 2020 reassessment, they looked at sales occurring six months before and six months after January 2019 to determine current values. With dramatic swings in market values, this process can cause people to scratch their heads wondering how a value was arrived at, but it's important to remember that the assessment is based upon a value from a couple of years back. If your home is damaged by a fire or hurricane and its value is greatly affected, please contact the Assessor's office to report the occurrence and the assessed value will be adjusted accordingly.
Adam Daigle, Business Editor of The Acadiana Advocate, Looks Back on 2021
44:50Adam Daigle, Business Editor of The Acadiana Advocate, joined Discover Lafayette to look back at the biggest news of 2021. While we have all continued to deal with the effects of COVID in our workplaces and schools this year, the economy has done remarkedly well. Sales tax collections in the City and Parish of Lafayette have been the highest on record as people spend monies left over from the PPE funding as we emerge from the lockdown. While employers may still be having trouble finding enough employees, the demand for services and goods has skyrocketed. One of the biggest stories this year is the announcement of SafeSource Direct, a partnership between Ochsner Health with Trax Development to manufacture and distribute personal protection equipment. The joint venture is investing $150 million to retrofit an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Lafayette Parish and a new 400,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in St. Martin Parish. The projects are expected to create over 1200 total new jobs between the facilities, a huge win for our region and a big step to decreasing U. S. dependence on foreign countries supplying our healthcare needs. SafeSource Direct, a partnership between Ochsner Health and Trax Development, is investing to create two manufacturing facilities to create PPE, expected to create 1200 new jobs. A big win for travelers is the upcoming completion of the Lafayette Airport nears substantial completion. Setting the standard on how to fund construction with a combination of federal and state dollars, coupled with a short-term (eight month) sales tax imposed locally, the project is moving along on pace to open in January 2022. The new Lafayette Airport is expected to open in January 2022, setting the standard for how to accomplish funding and construction in the way officials promised taxpayers. Adam shared that when he moved here in 2018, much of the business reporting centered on developments in the corridor surrounding River Ranch in South Lafayette, but not so much now. While there is buzz about Chick Fil-A moving over to the old Red Robin building near CostCo as well as the German-owned Aldi Supermarket chain coming to Lafayette (one just about completed on Ambassador Caffery, with another two stores planned on Ambassador and near Louisiana Avenue), there hasn't been big news in that South Lafayette region. Sneaker Politics' Derek Curry recently announced that he and two partners will be developing a $50 million mixed-use, retail, residential, and entertainment project on Johnston Street near the corner of Mount Vernon Road. This is important news for one of the older areas of Lafayette which has lay dormant for years. Curry has been extremely successful with Sneaker Politics and announced his excitement about redeveloping this abandoned shopping center as a way to bring commerce back to the heart of Lafayette. Pictured are Jim Keaty, Derek Curry, Alex Luna, and Terry Crochet at the announcement of The Forum, a mixed-use development planned on Johnston Street at Mount Vernon. Photo by Leslie Westbrook of the Advocate. Lafayette Economic Development Authority announced big news with the hiring of Mandi Mitchell who replaced longtime CEO Gregg Gothreaux. Mandi has worked for years with Louisiana Economic Development, all while commuting from her hometown of Lafayette. We welcome Mandi and look forward to watching her use her talents and business acumen to continue to promote new development while taking care of existing businesses who keep our economy going. The Amazon Fulfillment Center in Carencro seems to be a reality! While Adam said there has not been an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, the 1.1 million square facility seems to be bustling with activity. An online search for jobs at Amazon at the facility cites high paying wages and a potential $3,000 bonus for new employees. Laurel Hess has been making the news the last couple of years for his business...
AJ and Vanessa Miller – Bringing Love and Joy to All Who Visit Their Winter Wonderland
27:24AJ and Vanessa Miller have offered a Christmas wonderland at their home at 163 Antiqua Drive for the past 7 years, decorating their yard with a plethora of Christmas lights, nutcrackers, and other Christmas splendor. Thousands of people have walked through Reindeer Lane on the way to Santa's Workshop, passing Santa's Magical Mailbox where children mail their letters to Santa. Santa and Mrs. Claus personally welcome visitors on the weekends. On other days of the week, the Millers are joined by the Grinch and his sidekick, Max, who join in the spirit of Christmas. AJ and Vanessa Miller have welcomed visitors to their home at 163 Antigua Drive in Lafayette for the past seven years. On weekends, Santa and Mrs. Claus greet their guests and offer hot cocoa and popcorn to all. There is no charge to experience this Winter Wonderland. The Millers originally began this tradition when hosting a holiday party for Vanessa’s coworkers. They bought two 6-foot tall nutcrackers and a Christmas-themed sign, and AJ donned a Santa suit for the family-friendly party. When they saw up close the love the children had for Santa, "that was the spark that ignited the flame." The first time AJ put on the Santa suit, a little boy ran up to him, looked at him with his big brown eyes, and said, "Santa, I love you" and gave him the biggest hug ever. AJ realized what big shoes he wore and became determined to be the best Santa he could be. He wants to continue to spread that joy to children and adults alike. Similarly, Vanessa shared her motivation for holding the annual Wonderland. The couple wasn't fortunate enough to have children, so this is their opportunity to enjoy Christmas and see it through the eyes of children. "To see that look in the children's eyes is what inspires me," she says. You see that inner child come out in the adults. You should see the faces when Santa asks Mom and Dad what they want for Christmas," AJ chimed in. AJ Miller at his home at 163 Antigua Drive. Photo by Leslie Westbrook of The Acadiana Advocate. Both enjoyed driving with their parents to view Christmas lights when they were children. AJ was particularly inspired by Dr. Jack Gani's display of lights and decorations on Colonial Drive in White Subdivision which was a destination for Lafayette sightseers. But that experience took place in the car; the Millers wanted to provide a place where kids could immerse themselves in the experience. Vanessa explained how this has become their Christmas "Field of Dreams....if you can dream it and believe it, it's gonna happen." She keeps a vision board in her head and works to make the experience bigger and better every year. AJ said, "If you can dream it, I'll build it." They are still on the upswing as to what it will eventually be. The Millers can't do this alone and they are grateful for friends and neighbors who volunteer to assist. It takes many, many elves to conduct this operation, and guests are greeted by "parking elves' who help direct traffic, and elves who serve popcorn and hot cocoa on the weekends. Of course, there are elves who facilitate photo-taking so that every family member can be in the photo.....these photos are known as "Elfies!" The Millers offer an experience with memories that last a lifetime. It has become a part of many families' Christmas tradition, with guests bringing their cats, dogs, and even iguanas. The youngest visitor to date was a two-week-old. The last day to mail your letter to Santa is December 23. Elves bring children's letters to the North Pole and Santa responds to each and every letter. Each year a special attraction is added. On weekends, guests are privileged to visit the Miller's back yard where Dr. Seuss's Whoville is set up for photo opportunities. In the front yard, you can visit the North Pole and be greeted by a 10 foot polar bear named "Arthur" after AJ's dad. Also hailing from the North Pole is this year's new addition,
Wade Berzas, Business Coach and Plane Crash Survivor: Surrender to God and You Can Live Life with No Fear
51:23Wade Berzas, the sole survivor of the horrific plane crash that occurred 48 seconds after departing the Lafayette airport on December 28, 2019, en route to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, joins Discover Lafayette to discuss how the incident changed his life forever. He now lives his life "48 seconds at a time." Wade, still a young man of 39, is happily married with six children from his and his wife's prior marriages, with two little ones from their union. He recounts how the day of the crash was just another normal day. "My mom was coming over the next day and we had brisket marinating...I had spent the prior day setting my goals for the upcoming year. I was going on a flight with my best friends to do something we had always talked about, an opportunity to see LSU play a road game. Friends were waiting for us there. Everyone was giving me a hard time because I forgot the playing cards." "The whole flight lasted 48 seconds. Life flipped on top of its head. I was completely alone, strapped into my seat, burned all over my body, trying to figure out how I would get out. You quickly separate what's important from what's not. I called my wife from the field so I could get to her first so she didn't learn from social media what had happened. I wanted her to hear my voice so I could tell her, 'Don't worry. I'll be fine." A lot of people have put "their human minds" to work trying to figure out how Wade survived. Wade believes it is impossible to understand from a human level. " God just had a different plan for me that day. For those who believe, God worked six miracles: I'm still here and he kept me here for the purpose of doing more work. Five people got to see their Maker that day." Wade was always the guy who read the safety briefings when he worked offshore. He remembers getting out of his seatbelt which kept him in place as he hung upside down. He was able to exit the wreckage and two heroic bystanders helped him as he walked away and then collapsed in the field. Over 75% of his body was burned. He didn't want his wife to learn of the accident from social media, so he called her before he got into the ambulance so that she could hear his voice and he could tell her, "Don't worry, I'll be fine." The odds were against Wade, yet he described the peace that washed over him as he realized he was going to be fine. Even with the greater chance he would not make it than survive, he never wanted people to give up on him. Wade was expected to be in the hospital for at least three months. He was put into a medical coma to help his body rest as it fought against invasive germs and loss of fluids, all due to the loss of his skin, the body's biggest organ. Joey Barrios, MD, Burn Surgeon at Our Lady of Lourdes, was Wade's doctor; to date, Wade has had 26 surgeries, initially at the rate of twice a week, all of which have been 100% successful. Typically, skin grafting surgeries have a great probability of needing to be redone. He left the hospital after 52 days, far ahead of schedule. With hundreds of thousands of people praying for Wade's successful recovery, it is now easy to understand the power of prayer. Wade realized that he had to surrender the outcome of his accident to God. "You don't have to go through a plane crash to find yourself in situations where you feel you can't get through it. When you embrace the suffering, with grace and commitment to get to the other side, you can accomplish things you never imagined possible." He made that commitment one minute at a time, one day at a time. A positive mindset was critical in Wade's recovery, as it is for all of us going through trying times. He stayed positive as much as possible, allowed no negativity in his hospital room, and offered up his outcome to God. He never wanted to be called a victim; he was and is a survivor. He believes that we limit God in our human minds. "God doesn't give you more than you can handle if you allow Him to work through you.
Dr. Vincent June, Chancellor of South Louisiana Community College
38:12Dr. Vincent June, Chancellor of South Louisiana Community College (SLCC), joins Discover Lafayette to discuss his mission to provide educational opportunities to all people, no matter their age or background. Dr. June provides oversight for all academic and operational functions of SLCC’s nine campuses in eight parishes, serving more than 17,000 students annually. Before joining SLCC, Dr. June served diverse communities in public higher education for over two decades, including Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida A&M University and Georgia Perimeter College. He earned a degree in business and economics from Florida A&M University, and an MBA and Ph.D. in educational leadership from Washington State University. South Louisiana is a natural fit for Dr. June. He was born in Belle Glade FL, near Lake Okeechobee, an agricultural area of Palm Beach County, Florida. Farmers grew sugar cane, corn, beans, celery, oranges, and tangerines, and there was also fishing. "It was a one-stoplight community." Dr. June was fortunate to come from a background of educators. His grandmother, one of thirteen children, was an adult education schoolteacher, and that is actually how she met Dr. June's grandfather, who originally came to Florida from Jamaica to cut sugarcane. Both parents were educators. Always thinking he would be a dentist, he was a biology major until he took a class in economics which deeply captured his interest. A professor encouraged him to change course and he switched to economics and Spanish studies. Dr. June says he stumbled on the community college career path and his career journey has provided experience in all areas of higher education including student life, financial aid, admissions, and enrollment services. "I came to embrace the access mission of the community college. It provides a rich and deep experience and you're exposed to so many different levels of student-types. In a comprehensive community college, there is an avenue for everyone: individuals who don't have a high school diploma, those who want a technical background, as well as those who want an associate's degree and then move on to a traditional four-year institution." Photo by Brad Kemp of the Acadiana Advocate. SLCC is actively shifting its training opportunities to meet education and business trends. With a new strategic plan in place, the college is examining the programs that may need to be added to meet demands in fields such as nursing, welding, general studies, HVAC, automotive, commercial truck driving, and culinary arts. They are identifying optimal times to offer programs, including evening and weekend hours, to accommodate students who work full-time. Business developers in the Workforce and Corporate division of the college seek out business advice on programming that meets current workforce demands. COVID has ushered in a plethora of funding sources to help students meet their tuition, including the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act, a Louisiana initiative called "Reboot Your Career" which provides retraining for people in as short a period as 8 to 12 weeks, and the MJ Foster Promise Program created in honor of Louisiana's late governor Mike Foster. The "Reboot Your Career" program provides short-term retraining for unemployed workers looking for high wage career pathways at reduced tuition at Louisiana's Community and Technical Colleges. For more information visit https://www.lctcs.edu/rebootyourcareer SLCC stands out among its peers nationwide. Recently, The Aspen Institute named SLCC one of the 150 institutions (out of over 1000 nationally) eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges. This is the second year in a row SLCC has been named a Top 150 Community College. In addition, SLCC was awarded a $1.16 million grant by the U.S.
Kevin Guillory of LEED – Putting Love of God, Community, and Entrepreneurship to Work
52:08Kevin Guillory, Office Coordinator for the Louisiana Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (LEED) Center at UL Lafayette, BI Moody College of Business Administration, joins Discover Lafayette to discuss his career journey and putting his love of God, community, and entrepreneurship to work. A two-time graduate of UL- Lafayette, Kevin has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a Master's of Business Administration. One of his greatest gifts may be his understanding of God's will and the importance of following his intuition when making important decisions in life. His early career path took him from working with Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, to learning HR skills with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Huntsville TX, to working logistics for Bruce Foods, and finally to UL-Lafayette. He worked first with UL Admissions and then landed his dream job with LEED working under the helm of Dr. Geoffrey Stewart and Jonathan Shirley. Kevin Guillory is working his dream job at the Louisiana Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (LEED) Center at UL Lafayette. Working with people on their entrepreneurial journey has taught him a great deal about himself. While he never thought he could be a risk-taker, he has come to realize that he combines his logical and analytical skills while listening to his inner wisdom and intuition when taking bold steps. "We are all risk-takers." In his position with LEED, Kevin coordinates the activity and logistics of the LEED Center, and in preparing grants and contracts. In this role, he has the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs, students, and community organizations. LEED offers technical assistance to start-up companies to support job growth in Acadiana. Three regional programs (Accelerate Northside, Accelerate Evangeline and Accelerate St. Landry) have offered six-week programs providing guidance in creating business plans, obtaining loans, understanding finances, attracting customers, and staying in business. While the Accelerator programs would typically cost $450.00, a grant from the U. S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) in Economic Adjustment Assistance funding to UL - Lafayette funds the operation, necessitating only a $25 payment by participants. Other partners have also contributed to make the program possible including LEDA, the Greater Southwest Black Chamber of Commerce, One Acadiana, the McComb Veazey coterie, the NAACP, Acadiana Workforce Solutions, the Lafayette Public Library, and the Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center among others. "I've always wanted to be a part of the community. The business people I have met through the Accelerator Programs have inspired me in the way they support each other." Photo by Mary Comaci For more information on LEED and the Accelerate programs, visit https://business.louisiana.edu/leed. Kevin attributed his many mentors who have guided him in his journey, beginning with his dad who imparted his wisdom. He has had pastoral mentors, older co-workers, professors at UL-Lafayette (Dr. Geoff Stewart and Dr. Lise Anne Slatten), and Patrick LaBauve whom he partnered with while working with the 705 on the "Do Good Project." Community engagement in Lafayette is important to Kevin; while he, his wife, and child live here, the rest of his family is in Lake Charles. One of his proudest achievements has been partnering with librarians at Northside High School when he visited the campus and realized there were no business or leadership books in the library. By reaching out to his colleagues at UL-Lafayette Business school, Upper Lafayette Economic Development, and others, Kevin was able to present donated business books to fill this much-needed resource for young students. Kevin served for two years as Civic Committee Chair on the Board of Directors of The705 - Young Leaders for a Better Acadiana. He serves as Secretary for New Hope Community Development of Acadiana (which prov...
Marc Brattin, Foundry Rock Band, Performing in Lafayette Thanksgiving Weekend 2021
43:40Marc Brattin, Lafayette native and life-long musician, joins Discover Lafayette to discuss his band Foundry's upcoming concert on November 27, 2021, as well as his career journey. Marc started playing drums at age 12 and moved to Dallas at 17 to join a rock band with the encouragement of his mother. He has been successfully working in music ever since as a songwriter and drummer. He also serves as producer, promoter, manager, and booking agent for his band, Foundry, who will be performing at the Cajundome Convention Center Saturday, November 27. The event will also stream live. Tickets may be purchased at https://www.foundryrocks.com or on Ticketmaster. Foundry is an American Hard Rock Band featuring Marc Brattin's (drummer) along with his bandmates Chris Lorio (guitar), Niko Gemini (bass player), and Mark Boals (singer). Marc founded the band eight years ago and it is his "baby," a labor of love, which he describes as having a borderline heavy metal sound with great guitar and hard-hitting drums. The band writes its own music and features melodic vocals, "not screaming." The band also enjoys doing "remakes" of popular hits from Lady Gaga ("Poker Face") and Pink Floyd ("Money") in keeping with Las Vegas themes, where the band is based. At the November 27th concert, they will unveil their latest remake featuring one of the most popular songs recorded by the Bee Gees. Foundry was organized by Marc Brattin eight years ago and features a hard rock sound akin to Metallica and Black Sabbath. With melodic singing, hard-hitting drums, and great guitar, their sound typically attracts people in their 40's, 50's and 60's. Foundry is appearing at the Cajundome Convention Center on November 27, 2021. Local sports fans will enjoy Foundry performing the National Anthem at both the UL-Lafayette Basketball game at 11 AM followed by UL-Lafayette football's last game of the season at 3PM. Marc promises it will be delivered in the traditional format with four-part harmony and will showcase the band's singing talent. "Follow your dream and do what you want to do. Just do it. Peers, parents, and mentors will guide you and steer you, so take all that in. They have good advice for you. Being broke just isn't cool, so be responsible. But do what you want; you only live once. You'll be happy." Marc Brattin Marc shares how there were no opportunities for hard rock musicians in Lafayette when he was coming up. Today's musicians can record in their bedroom and it comes out pretty good. But to bring a song to the radio, brand it with a video, artists still must go into a proper studio to record it "for real." The bar is still high for releasing a song. "Mp3's just don't cut it. If you want to be real, you have to go for real." Marc also serves as Entertainment Director for FACET, an executive coaching firm founded in Lafayette LA, offering services across the U. S. We thank Marc Brattin for sharing his story and look forward to a fun concert by Foundry on November 27, 2021, Thanksgiving weekend!