Terrebonne Parish

SUNO SURVEY

Researchers from Southern University of New Orleans are seeking local businesses’ input about what programs or assistance have helped business recover quickly in prior flooding events, or what ideas you have that could help your business (or others) return to productivity quickly in future floods. They plan to compile the suggestions to help shape future policies and programs.

Please fill out the questionnaire, scan and email to ktheriot@tpeda.org for submission to SUNO. You are encouraged to add a page for further suggestions.

Jump Start provides job-ready workers

Employers in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes can easily find new employees educated through local schools as part of the state’s Jump Start career pathway program.

“Say you’re a retailer looking to increase your staff for the holiday shopping season. Wouldn’t it be nice to hire a young person for evening shifts who has some training in customer service?” the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority said in a news release.

Terrebonne Parish public school students earned more than 3,000 certifications by their 2018 graduation, TEDA said.

Jump Start is Louisiana’s career and technical education program that aims to begin career training while students are still in high school, allowing them to earn industry-based certifications and a career diploma.

High school student are earning certifications in the areas of automotive, health care, food service, web design, emergency medical services, construction, carpentry, electrical, welding, transportation, agriculture, business and more.

“These Jump Start career diplomas give students a level of knowledge in these areas, offering companies new options when hiring entry-level staff and providing students skills sets upon which they can build through their career or further education,” TEDA said.

In 2018, TEDA said, about 42 percent of Terrebonne graduates, or 480 students, received 3,361 certifications. Next May, the system anticipates graduating about another 450 with certifications.

TEDA is organizing a spring job fair to help the pending graduates. Call 873-6890 for information about Jump Start graduates or if your company is interested in participating in the job fair.

Students training for entry-level jobs

Terrebonne Economic Development Authority is touting a local school district program that aims to provide high school students with problem-solving skills and the ability to be trained to fill entry-level jobs.

The ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate test is given to Terrebonne students on Jump Start Career Pathway tracks, some upper level English students and students who scores a 21 or less on the ACT college entrance test.

TEDA says students can earn certifications that verify proficiency in problem solving; critical thinking; reading and using work-related text; applying information from workplace documents and mathematical reasoning to solve problems; locating, synthesizing and applying information presented graphically; and comparing, summarizing and analyzing information presented in multiple graphics.

“Why is this valuable to businesses? These areas indicate students’ strength in using mathematical reasoning and problem-solving techniques to solve work-related problems,” TEDA said.

Among the skills student are taught are solving problems using mathematical skills, identifying a trend and figuring out a goal to a new situation, TEDA said.

Students with WorkKeys certificates can help employers better align their new hires’ skills with those needed for a job, TEDA said. That also translates into “shorter training times with greater knowledge retention, reduced turnover, increased performance ratings for skilled workers, improved employee morale and decreased operator error.”

Students with certification are being advised to note this on their resumes and job applications. They can be verified at http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/workkeys-for-educators/ncrc.html.

For information, call Katherine Gilbert-Theriot at TEDA at 873-6890.

Schools using test to indicate level of soft skills

HOUMA -- Are you struggling to hire entry-level employees who can show up on time and can be a trained?

The Terrebonne Parish School District is using a tool that can aid in reassuring you that the application of that high-school student or recent graduate you’re holding might be good fit for your company.

It’s the ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) test, and it’s given to all students who are on Jump Start Career Pathway tracks, some upper level English students and is available to any student who scores a 21 or less on the ACT. Educators say that’s approximately 50 percent of the high-school population, and TPSD covers the cost for students.

Though WorkKeys testing students can earn certifications in Applied Math, Graphic Literacy and/or Workplace Documents on four levels – bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The credentials verify skills proficiency in

• problem solving

• critical thinking

• reading and using work-related text

• applying information from workplace documents and mathematical reasoning to solve problems

• locating, synthesizing and applying information presented graphically, and

• comparing, summarizing and analyzing information presented in multiple graphics.

For example, with a gold Applied Math certificate, students demonstrate their ability to solve problems using mathematical operations with mixed units, identify where a mistake occurred in calculations, calculate percentages and use it to determine a discount, markup or tax, convert between units of measurement, and other skills.

A gold Graphic Literacy certificate indicates students can locate information in a graphic using information found in another graphic, identify a trend/pattern/relationship and justify a decision based on information, among other skills.

Regarding Workplace Documents, a gold certificate indicates the ability to infer meanings of words or phrases from context, apply instructions to a new situation similar to the one described in a document while considering changing conditions and make inferences to accomplish a goal.

Why is this valuable to businesses? These areas indicate students’ strength in using mathematical reasoning and problem-solving techniques to solve work-related problems; graphs, charts, tables, floor plans and instrument gauges; and written text to do a job. The higher the score on the WorkKeys assessment (on a scale of 3 to 7), the greater the ability.

WorkKeys certificates are tools that can help employers better align their new hires’ skills with those needed for a job. That translates into a better-quality hire, shorter training times with greater knowledge retention, reduced turnover, increased performance ratings for skilled workers, improved employee morale and decreased operator error.

How do you know if an applicant has these certifications? Their school counselors have been recommending certifications be listed on resumes, added to job application forms and certificate copies offered to potential employers. Students have also been counseled to make their certificates publicly available so employers to verify them by entering a registration number online at http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/workkeys-for-educators/ncrc.html

Want more information on WorkKeys certificates? Contact Katherine Gilbert-Theriot with Terrebonne Economic Development at 985-873-6890.

Houma and Thibodaux among first certified as retirement communities in state

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Houma and Thibodaux are two of the first cities in Louisiana to be officially designated as retirement communities by the state tourism commission.

The designations were awarded this week at the annual Lt. Governor’s Travel Summit in Lake Charles.

“Through a competitive and selective application process, these communities, including Thibodaux, will now receive state-level marketing support, networking opportunities and possible grant funding to help us grow our brand moving forward,” Thibodaux officials said Thursday.

Other cities now included in the program are Lafayette, Lake Charles, Natchitoches, Ruston and Lincoln Parish, Toledo Bend and Sabine Parish, and Shreveport-Bossier City.

Each was chosen under a competitive application process through the Encore Louisiana Commission, which reviewed applications for several months. It eventually selected the eight cities and parishes “that are now certified and focused on bringing retirees to enjoy their ‘encore’ at life,” the website states.

Under the new program, each retirement community has detailed retirement information on the state tourism website, LouisianaTravel.com.

Houma-Terrebonne was selected for its small town charm and easy access to city living in New Orleans. The area’s many outdoor activities, festivals, music and food are all boasted by the state.

“This specific designation was a great opportunity for both Houma Travel and (Terrebonne Economic Development Authority) to work together on a project that has an effect on both economic development and tourism,” Houma Travel Assistant Director Joey Pierce said.

Terrebonne has a wide demographic range, seeing many natives of the area stay through retirement, while newcomers are constantly flowing in especially as the oil and gas industry rebounds, he said.

“If you are born here, you’re going to want to stay here,” Pierce said. “There are a lot of intrinsic qualities people of this area love.”

Promoting the parish as a retirement community will not only help tourism by encouraging potential retirees to visit before settling down, it could also spark growth in the housing and job markets, he said.

About 20 miles north of Houma, Thibodaux also boasts a robust retirement community.

“Among the many factors that make Thibodaux an ideal retirement community are its fair taxes, recreational opportunities and healthcare facilities, which make for a second-to-none experience for all those who call this city their home,” the website states. It also notes the state-of-the-art Wellness Center at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, the many festivals and events, and the work in the historic district by Thibodaux Main Street.

Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at@JuliaArenstam.

 

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Congratulations to two Houma companies for being recognized on Inc.com's 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies list -- 5-year-old Pelican Waste & Debris, LLC ranked #318 and JJR Construction ranked #1824! Also a shout out to Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar as the Baton Rouge-based company with a Houma location made the list as well (#1756).

Terrebonne economic agency revamped after temporary closure

The Terrebonne Economic Development Authority is moving forward with local development efforts, despite a downturn in revenue.

CEO Matt Rookard presented an overview of the quasi-governmental agency to the Parish Council Wednesday.

The agency was restructured in October 2015 after remaining dormant for about a year. Rookard was hired in 2016. It has a nine-member board and a three-member staff that handles economic development efforts for the parish, such as business recruitment and retention and workforce training.

Between 2016 and 2018, the organization has lost $450,000 from the parish, but that money has been used to pay for other economic development measures such as the dredging of the Houma Navigation Canal and the Schriever train station, Rookard said.

The cuts are in line with other cuts made parishwide due to declining tax revenues, he said.

The agency receives its money through a portion of fees collected through the occupational businesses in the parish.

Despite the cut, TEDA has been using reserve money to keep some operations growing, including organizational reviews, branding and strategic advertising.

When Rookard first took the job, the agency reviewed every detail as part of a larger organizational management.

There were some pretty significant issues, which were part of the reason why the agency was shut down, he said.

“It took a lot longer than I thought it was going to take, but I feel confident in where we are now,” Rookard said. “It was very important to me to start with a very good foundation from an organizational standpoint where you could not come back and look at TEDA and say we’re doing something wrong.”

In terms of branding, the group has created a new logo, a new website and a promotional video.

TEDA is working to become an inaugural member of the state’s retirement community certification program, Rookard said.

The agency is also working on a plan to create a sports tourism faction, called HT Sports, to recruit major sporting events around the parish.

HT Sports could take over operations of the long-awaited Bayou Country Sports Park, but no agreement to that effect has been officially proposed.

However, most of TEDA’s efforts are focused on business retention and expansion.

“Bringing in new business is nice, but keeping businesses from leaving is absolutely crucial,” Rookard said.

As far as new businesses, the parish faces the challenge of having a surplus of land, but at a higher ticket price and with very few spec buildings, he said.

To move TEDA forward, the agency will be asking for an increase in revenue next year.

“As we go forward, we have to start making decisions on whether we’re going to fund these types of programs or whether we’re just going to continue to do the business retention and responses,” Rookard said. “I’m proud of work we did, but if we had more resources, we will continue to do more.”

Many of the council members expressed support of the work TEDA is doing.

“We definitely need to invest in economic development, to the right amount,” Councilman Darrin Guidry said. “But not over invest. That might have been some of the faults of the previous TEDA.”

“I think you’re going to a great direction. I look forward to continuing supporting you and your efforts and your outstanding committee,” Councilwoman Arlanda Williams said.

Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com.

Our opinion: Diversifying Economy is Difficult but Worthwhile

Efforts to diversify the local economy – shifting its overwhelming focus from oil and gas to other, varied industries – have proven largely futile.

But there is every reason to continue this worthwhile, long-term goal that would remove some local workers’ dependency on a mostly robust but cyclical industry.

The oil and gas slowdown that has cost so many thousands of local workers their jobs is yet another reminder that no matter how lucrative oil and gas can be, depending too much on any one sector of the economy holds certain risks.

So it’s good to see the push for diversification continuing.

“Take a sector with an existing strength and within that identify a specialty. If you invest heavily into technology, you end up with a new specialty within that industry,” Terrebonne Economic Development Authority CEO Matt Rookard said. “Then you can look at applying that to other industries.”

He used as an example an attempt to use the Houma-Terrebonne Airport as a hub for unmanned aircraft, which could eventually expand into use in coastal restoration or storm damage assessment.

“These things don’t exist as we sit here today, but if you can deploy that technology, there’s opportunity to create them,” Rookard said.

Although it’s a good example, it is but one way TEDA and others are trying to open up the local economy to new companies and ventures that might eventually produce the kind of diversity other areas enjoy.

While the oil and gas industry has been a valuable local partner for workers and businesses, having all the region’s eggs in one industrial basket makes us more vulnerable to the fluctuations in that market.

The more our area can cultivate other industries, the better we can insulate ourselves against the slowdowns that are inevitable in every portion of the economy.

We have proven time and again that our workers and our local companies are incredibly useful to the oilfield industry. These same workers and others would contribute mightily to any industry in which they have training and education and in which there are employment opportunities available.

We don’t lose anything by trying to grow more and different opportunities for our workers and the many others who rely on the local economy. But failing to do so would be a terrible lack of planning and preparation.

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.

DailyComet.com

 

Efforts to Diversify Economy Continue

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One effort focuses on making the Houma-Terrebonne Airport a hub for unmanned aircraft.

Recent studies have shown that for Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes to boost their economies, they should diversify their economies so they are less reliant on the oil industry.

But complete diversification isn’t going to happen overnight, Terrebonne Economic Development Authority CEO Matt Rookard said.

TEDA hired Garner Economics to study the local economy in 2016. The report suggests one resource with potential is the Houma-Terrebonne Airport.

As a result, TEDA is partnering with Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Fletcher Technical Community College in Schriever and the airport to bring an unmanned aviation system to Terrebonne Parish.

TEDA is working to create a public-private partnership for research and development on how to bring this new technology to the parish, Rookard said.

Contrary to the popular concept of smaller, almost-hand-held-size drones, these unmanned aircraft are more like full-size helicopters without pilots, he said.

This kind of technology is mainly used for military purposes but has applications in commercial industries like oil and gas.

Once formed, the public-private partnership will seek research dollars to fund the program.

“Take a sector with an existing strength and within that identify a specialty. If you invest heavily into technology, you end up with a new specialty within that industry,” Rookard said. “Then you can look at applying that to other industries.”

Terrebonne’s existing strength is the oil industry, specializing in logistics. By investing heavily into unmanned aviation systems that can be used in that field, the technology can later expand into other industries, such as coastal restoration, Rookard said. Insurance companies can use unmanned aircraft to assess damage after storms.

“These things don’t exist as we sit here today, but if you can deploy that technology, there’s opportunity to create them,” he said.

In December, representatives of TEDA, Nicholls, Fletcher and the airport traveled to the University of North Dakota to get an inside look at its unmanned aircraft program and explore a possible partnership, Rookard said.

Right now, the group is looking for funding.

The airport has committed some funds to make infrastructure upgrades but in order to get approval from the Federal Aviation Authority, more work is needed.

TEDA has also been working on scholarship programs for minority-owned contracting businesses to receive accreditation training to compete for local construction jobs.

“A lot of these contracts go to the same people over and over because there’s only so many qualified companies,” Rookard said.

The agency is also working with the Entergy workforce-development program to train students for jobs utility companies are looking to fill.

TEDA will present other diversification and economic-development plans later this month to the Terrebonne Parish Council, Rookard said. He declined to comment on specifics.

-- Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 orjulia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @gingerale214.

Terrebonne Moves Forward with Flood, Storm Protection

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Terrebonne Parish President Gordy Dove said the parish is fiscally strong thanks to his staff and support from groups like the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District.

During his Fiscal State of Terrebonne Parish speech Tuesday to members of the South Central Industrial Association, Dove said the parish was able to end 2017 with a $9 million fund balance, recovering from a “spiraling economy.”

After implementing 23 percent cuts in each department last year, “the parish is fiscally strong,” Dove said.

In April, sales tax revenues increased by 4.26 percent, he said.

Since taking office in 2016, Dove’s administration has worked on a number of capital improvement projects, specifically concerning drainage and storm protection.

In the past 11 years, the parish has received over $200 million from the state for various projects.

“We build the Morganza system. Now we have to pump it out,” Dove said.

The pending Chacahoula-Gibson pump station will be the first built outside of the Morganza-to-the-Gulf Levee system.

“It’s a huge undertaking, and a job well done by my staff,” Dove said.

The parish is also working to install three permanent generators at the Houma Power Plant at a cost of $850,000.

Other ongoing projects include the Falgout Canal rehabilitation and floodgate, the Hollywood Road extension project, the Mayfield Bridge replacement, the Point-aux-Chenes floodgate and the Houma Canal lock system, Dove said.

The parish is using drones to map the levee system and create an app for emergency operations personnel to monitor the closure of sluice gates during storms. Sluice gates are used in smaller drainage canals to control the flow of water.

“There’s no system in Terrebonne for what to shut off,” Dove said about the gates. “We’re working to solve that problem.”

One of the problem areas lies along Valhi Boulevard, which is part of the Chacahoula Basin, he said. When water rises in that area, it can flood nearby neighborhoods.

Other major projects include the Petit Caillou lock in Chauvin, costing about $9 million. The U.S. Corps of Engineers has issued preliminary permits, and the project is expected to go out for bid in June, Dove said.

The Petit Caillou drainage project will deepen the conveyance channel and add a pump station in Chauvin.

The parish is also continuing work with the state’s Coastal Restoration Protection Agency to improve the barrier island system from Racoon Island to Belle Pass.

“I don’t think a lot of us realize what we have in Gordon Dove,” said Tony Alford, president of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District board. “We need six more years to get this stuff done.”

Officials Tout Tourism’s Benefits Locally, Statewide

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Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser joined Terrebonne Parish officials today to highlight tourism’s contribution locally and statewide.

“The tourism industry continues to grow in a time when a lot of other industries are suffering in Louisiana,” Nungesser said during a brief celebration at Terrebonne’s tourist center in Gray. “It is a shining bright light for Louisiana.”

Nungesser, who is making stops across the state for National Tourism Week, said 2017 was the sixth straight year of record-breaking tourism numbers in Louisiana.

The state welcomed 47.1 million visitors last year, up nearly 500,000 compared to 2016, according to numbers from the tourism and travel research firm DK Shifflet. Those visitors spent $17.5 billion, an average of $371 per person.

The travel and tourism industry generated $1.8 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, an increase of 4.5 percent from 2016, Nungesser said. That revenue represents a 37-to-1 return on investment of state funding. Tax revenue generated through travel and tourism spending saves each household in Louisiana $1,047 a year in taxes that would be needed to maintain current services.

Nungesser also discussed the state’s new branding campaign -- Louisiana: Feed Your Soul, saying it conveys to the world that no other state can offer the bounty of food, music, history and culture Louisiana can.

“This exciting new brand will offer travelers a new outlook – that you may come to Louisiana hungry, but you’ll leave with your soul full of all the rewarding experiences we offer,” he said. “There is truly nowhere else in the world that can feed your soul like we can.”

Here are some other statistics he and local tourism officials offered today:

  • Last year, 14.3 million airplane passengers traveled into and out of the state, up 6.7 percent from 2016. It was the first year of direct, international flights from London and Frankfurt, Germany, into Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans.

  • In Terrebonne, visitors spent $189.5 million and supported 2,680 jobs in 2016, according to the latest figures available. People from 48 states and 33 countries visited.

  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows 236,300 jobs resulted from visitor spending in Louisiana in 2017. That means one of every 8.5 working adults in Louisiana is employed as a result of the tourism industry.

  • Since 2007, tourism is the second fastest-growing job sector in Louisiana, increasing more than 20 percent since then and adding more than 40,000 jobs to the state’s workforce.

 

Ribbon Cutting at the Academy Place Apartments, a Senior Living Community

Volunteers of America's Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corporation celebrated on Nov 15, 2017, the grand opening of its newest residential development in Houma, Academy Place apartments, a senior living community. The project was completed in partnership with Terrebonne Council on Aging and Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government, among others. It features the renovated historic Houma Elementary School renovated and expanded to feature 103 affordable one and two-bedroom apartments for residents ages 62 and older, plus community centers.

Cenac Marine donated a barge to SLCC for Workforce Development Training

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CEO of Cenac Marine Services, Benny Cenac, and Company donated a fully refurbished barge to South Louisiana Community College's Workforce Development Training program.  An official christening and rededication took place on November 14th at Cenac Marine Services' headquarters.  The 158 feet by 40 feet fully restored barge was presented to SLCC administration and staff.  The barge is a replica of a standard Cenac Marine Services tank barge and will be used for the school's training of the next generation of maritime industry leaders.  Mr. Cenac is honored to be able to help his community and local education programs.