In the upcoming fiscal year the city general fund will bring in just over $100 million and end the year with a fund balance of almost $40 million. The parish general fund will bring in less than $12 million and end the year with a fund balance of about $100,000.
▸ The gist: On Tuesday, the Lafayette City-Parish Council voted to approve the creation of a new public trust, called the Lafayette Public Innovation Alliance, and seat its first trustees. They were approved to serve five-year terms by the City-Parish Council. Future trustees will be nominated by the mayor-president and approved either by the city-parish council or, if the proposed charter amendments pass, by the parish council. Robideaux named Lafayette Parish the beneficiary of the trust.
▸ The trustees are:
- Chris Meaux - CEO of Waitr
- Bruce Greenstein - EVP, chief innovation and technology officer at LHC Group
- Mandi Mitchell - assistant secretary of Louisiana Economic Development
- Ramesh Kolluru - VP for research, innovation and economic development at UL Lafayette
- Joel Robideaux
▸ Uh, what do they do, exactly? The primary goal of this trust is to produce and attract more technology and software development talent in Lafayette. There are no local public dollars being invested into the trust at this time — although Robideaux did offer to throw in the first $100 if that was required to make it kosher. The intent is to leverage the trustees’ contacts nationwide to find grants and get the trust funded and off the ground.
“Certainly any effort regarding a Lafayette-based cryptocurrency would naturally fit within the goals of the trust as I see them,” Robideaux wrote in an email. “More specific, if Lafayette develops a digital token and that token can generate seed money for the trust, then I would be elated.”
▸ What to watch for: Innovation districts. Robideaux indicated the fund could finance innovation districts that would help the region attract new talent. “We need to produce more talent locally, or implement a strategy to attract talent from other places…specifically technology talent,” he said at the meeting. While there was nothing specific about what that might entail, the idea resembles similar efforts underway in Chattanooga, which claims to be the first mid-sized city to establish an innovation district.
Not every argument against separate councils holds water, but some are compelling and worth exploring
While there are more questions than answers about selling LUS, one thing we know for sure is that it’s a perfect example of the unfairness baked into the structure of Lafayette’s consolidated government.
Lafayette needs less uncertainty from local government not more. But that’s not the direction we’re going.
No project is perhaps more emblematic of the morass Downtown has been in than the old federal courthouse. Yet, a project of this magnitude is exactly what we need to catalyze development.
While headlines have focused on the creation of 400 jobs, there’s a lot more to unpack about the benefits to Lafayette’s digital economy.
As a result of Waitr’s hard work and pluck, our community now has all the ingredients needed to power an explosion of growth in our digital economy.
Much of our GDP has been lost to an industry that seems unlikely to ever fully recover. And none of our industries are on pace to have the kind of billion-dollar growth our economy needs to get back on track.
UHC’s CEO says losing the hospital would deal a devastating blow not only to Lafayette’s economy but also the region’s poorest population.
If Lafayette loses UHC, our community will be sicker, poorer, weaker, and less able to dig our way out of the $10 billion economic hole we find ourselves in now.