Keys Outpatient Behavioral Health Center of New Iberia is the winner of the first Opportunity Zone PitchFest 2020 competition Wednesday at the Innovate South conference.
The event, a “Shark-Tank style” pitch competition, was developed by Invest Acadiana, the Acadiana Planning Commission and Opportunity Machine to help provide funding for projects in Opportunity Zones.
Keys Outpatient Behavioral Health Center will now be featured nationally in Economic Innovation Group’s Opportunity Zone newsletter and will receive a free consultation with OZ Pros, a national consulting firm that focuses on development in opportunity zones nationwide.
As addiction continues to rise in Acadiana parishes, Keys has provided access to treatment at its out-patient facility for the past 15 years but needs to expand to offer in-patient treatment facilities to continue addiction treatment in an area where most patients have low incomes.
Their winning pitch focused on expanded access to care by purchasing buildings to create more in-patient facilities and sober living facilities to aid those still in recovery. The plan is to develop three buildings in the community with the help of investors, according to Angela O’Byrne, volunteer board member and presenter for Keys Behavioral Health.
The clinic now refers patients to outpatient clinics and residential homes in Baton Rouge and Lafayette after their addiction recovery, which causes patients to often be stuck on waiting lists for weeks and leaving them without care, she said.
“It’s just a huge win because when we talk to (patients) about it and they’re thinking about it, it then takes days or they’re on a waiting list," Keys lead doctor Dr. Joseph Wilson said. "And then they’re back to using again.”
Clinic officials will continue to seek investors for the project. Wilson said he hopes to break ground next year on the project.
The OZ PitchFest competition was judged by local and national investors and featured two other contestants, Handy Stop Market & Cafe and NeuroRescue.