A strategic partnership involving One Acadiana and the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center will use strengths of both organizations to advance their shared or complementary missions.
The agreement was announced Tuesday by both organizations.
“We’ve been talking about this for a few months,” said Stephen R. Barnes, who directs the Blanco Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He said Troy Wayman, president and CEO of One Acadiana, was among the first to greet him in Lafayette when the Blanco Center opened as an independent, interdisciplinary research center and archive, and was “excited about what we were doing.”
One Acadiana, which grew out of the former Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, is the leading economic development organization in a nine-parish Acadiana region, with more than 600 investors and members. Its missions include encouraging greater educational attainment in the workforce to complement its goal of enhancing economic opportunity.
Barnes said the Blanco Center since its creation has been establishing itself as a statewide force; Wayman said the two organizations have worked in complementary fashion on several initiatives and by the agreement are affirming that continuing relationship. Wayman said the agreement is open ended.
“I am confident that the work produced through out partnership with the Blanco Center will have a meaningful impact on the future economic growth and competitiveness of the region,” he said.
Among shared goals and complementary efforts, Barnes said, is One Acadiana’s 55 by 25 initiative — the effort to raise educational and workforce training efforts to a level where 55 percent of the adult population has an academic degree or recognized workforce certification. Barnes said the Blanco Center will study how the state can bolster that effort by supporting adults who are seeking such credentials while raising families and working.
“Part of our mission is to be a resource,” Barnes said. “Partnering with One Acadiana helps us to expand our capacity.”
He said One Acadiana may tap into more research efforts at UL Lafayette through the Blanco Center. He also said that by the two organizations joining forces, they may be able to secure more grant funding.
“We believe there is strength in numbers,” Wayman said. “There is no sense in being repetitive in our actions. It makes perfect sense for us to leverage the partnership, make it formal and stand together on issues or policy.”
Stated issues for the Blanco Center include addressing poverty, improving education and developing economic opportunity.