A delegation of Acadiana’s top officials visited the White House on Thursday to celebrate the region’s embrace of President Donald Trump’s Opportunity Zone program and to discuss how the program can attract investment in disadvantaged areas.
Monique Boulet, president and CEO of the Acadiana Planning Commission, said Thursday’s meeting with officials from the White House, the Treasury Department and the Department of Agriculture offered huge opportunity for dozens of Louisiana officials.
“This gave us the opportunity to really get a variety of voices from across the state from different sectors, different types of stake holders,” Boulet said. “So it was just a real chance to have a strong voice as a state and bring in more attention.”
Acadiana’s delegation included elected officials from across the region, as well as several members of Lafayette Consolidated Government and a handful of representatives from One Acadiana.
Boulet credited One Acadiana, the Lafayette-based chamber and regional economic development group, for helping the Acadiana Planning Commission place the region on the White House’s radar with the creation of prospectuses for the regions dozens of Opportunity Zones. The zones allow investors to defer taxes on their investment earnings if they put their money into projects in qualified low-income areas in the state.
“That’s what projected us into this national conversation,” Boulet said. “That’s why we got on the Forbes list.”
In December, Forbes recognized the two agencies on a list of the nation’s top 20 Opportunity Zone catalysts for their work promoting the area as a destination for investments through the federal program.
Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory said Thursday he was excited to have the delegation discuss the potential for greater investment in Lafayette with White House officials overseeing the program.
“My administration is already set to embrace this initiative. We have seven Opportunity Zones in the parish, and we are diving deep to understand how we can further capitalize on the potential of stacking existing incentives to make investing in Lafayette that much more attractive,” Guillory said.