Date: September 16–21, 2018
Location: Morgan City and Berwick, LA
Sponsors: St. Mary Parish Council, The Port Commission of Morgan City, Morgan City, Council, Hellenic, Inc., Hancock/Whitney Bank and the Town of Berwick, Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau, Joe and Gina Sanford, Dr. Trey and Jennifer Morice, Greg and Brenda Hamer, Bill and July Hidalgo and the Conrad Family Foundation, Central Boats, LAPCO, Inc., Jodi and Burt Adams, Diane and Mike Lind, Dr. Joseph Guarisco, A. J. Dohmann, Lucien Cutrera, Foley & Judell, L.L.P., Bart and Monica Mancuso, Briant and Laura Dozar, Edith P. Hover, In Memory of Helen Laughlin by family members, Brian and Nancy Laughlin, Linda and Sam Spitale
Subject Area: Municipal Strategies
Panel Chair: Alrich Lynch, LDG Consulting, Atlanta, Georgia
Background and Panel Assignment
An advisory services panel made strategic recommendations on how the cities of Morgan City and Berwick can better fuel economic growth by looking at near, medium, and longer-term implementation of economic development plans. As the gateway to the 800,000-acre Atchafalaya Basin, the largest overflow swamp in the United States, the Morgan City-Berwick area’s main economic engines have been propelled by the commercial fishing (mostly shrimping) and petroleum industries since the early and mid- 20th century, respectively. In the past five years, the oil industry has suffered from the decline of oil prices which has led to population loss, business closures, and aesthetic decline.
The assignment for the panelists centered on revitalization and diversification of business and industry and looking for strategic ways to attract new businesses through policy and planning. The main focus points the panel looked to address included:
- How does the Morgan City/Berwick area diversify the area’s economy using its major waterways to attract industry and grow its economy?
- What actions would you recommend for the Morgan City and Berwick Front Streets/ water front areas so that the City and Town might achieve the best return on additional investment the City and Town might undertake?
- What profitable industries and businesses, including those in emerging technological and renewable energy fields (e.g. wind turbines, solar panels, hydroelectric power) could be feasibly located in our area and what steps do we take to attract such employers?
- How do we work with existing area business and industry to support their expansion and continued fiscal growth?
- What is the best use for the property development along Lake Palourde?
- How can land owners with property to be developed in Berwick and Morgan City market and attract investors?
Summary of Recommendations
After 5 days, the panelists came up with multiple ways to address the questions:
- Establish your Tri-City brand by identifying the things that differentiate your community
- Position the Tri-City area as a marine servicing hub
- Focus on guided eco-tourism, hunting, and fishing
- Grow and support existing businesses
- Understand your social, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities
- Work together to finish the levee and achieve FEMA certification
- Support consolidation of taxing entities whenever and wherever possible
- Encourage the renovation and reuse of underutilized properties
- Enforce the existing code
- Improve downtown infrastructure to support a renewed downtown core and waterfront
- Demand new, more, and diverse voices at decision-making tables
- The Hellenic property should not be a public investment priority
- Embrace the benefits of regional cooperation: communicate, collaborate, and consolidate
- Recognize the cost of doing nothing