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One Acadiana and Blanco Center Release Regional Data Dashboard

Regional Dashboard

LAFAYETTE, La. One Acadiana and the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center at UL Lafayette (Blanco Center) have partnered to develop a new dashboard that provides an at-a-glance look at regional data on population, employment, education, and well-being.

This regional data dashboard was released at an event Thursday, March 3 focused on “Why Measuring and Messaging Matter.” It was the second event in One Acadiana’s new CivicCon Acadiana event series, aimed at sparking civic conversation.

The dashboard is available through the Vibrant Acadiana website at VibrantAcadiana.org.

Vibrant Acadiana is a new initiative to track community progress and raise civic IQ, with guidance from experts at Vibrant Community Partners (VCP). To build the foundation for the Vibrant Acadiana initiative, One Acadiana committed to three initial deliverables: (1) launching the CivicCon Acadiana event series, (2) conducting the Mason-Dixon quality-of-life survey, and (3) developing a regional data dashboard. The first and second deliverables were rolled out in December, and the dashboard fulfills the third of those commitments.

Quint Studer, VCP founder and an expert in building vibrant communities who shared lessons with Acadiana leaders at One Acadiana’s Vibrant Community Summit in June, says developing a dashboard with objective data is valuable for many reasons.

“When you’re looking to revitalize, objective data allow you to diagnose before you treat,” says Studer. “It helps your community challenge assumptions and make sure you’re tackling the most impactful issues. Plus, it’s a great way to promote civic engagement. Good objective data give you the information you need to start a real conversation about the future of your community.”

The dashboard will track the following metrics over time:

  • Population: City of Lafayette, Lafayette Parish, Acadiana region (defined as the nine parishes served by One Acadiana), Acadiana region age 25-34
  • Employment: total employment, labor force participation, unemployment rate, median household income
  • Education: 3rd grade reading, high school graduation, college enrollment, postsecondary attainment
  • Well-being: child poverty, violent crime, home prices, broadband access

Most metrics will be updated annually as new data become available.

Here are a few key takeaways from the data:

  • The population of Lafayette Parish has more than doubled since 1970. The parish’s smaller municipalities have grown at an explosive rate, with the city of Youngsville growing by more than 1,400% since 1980.
  • Unemployment in the Lafayette MSA reached 12% in May 2020 but quickly fell by Nov. 2021 to its lowest level in a decade at 3.6%.
  • Vermilion Parish boasts the highest 3rd grade reading scores in the region, with 60% of 3rd graders scoring mastery or above in ELA on the LEAP. The parishes with the next highest 3rd grade reading scores are Acadia and Jeff Davis at 46%.
  • Jeff Davis Parish boasts the highest high school graduation rate in the region at 95%, as well as the highest college-going rate, with 55% of Jeff Davis high school graduates enrolling in a two- or four-year college the first fall after graduation.

“This regional dashboard gives us another tool for objective measurement alongside our quality-of-life survey,” said Troy Wayman, President & CEO of One Acadiana. “As Quint Studer says, ‘What gets measured gets improved.’ We hope both the quality-of-life survey and regional dashboard will help spark civic conversation that leads to enhanced community vibrancy and growth.”

On the Blanco Center’s work to build and maintain the dashboard, Blanco Center Director Stephen Barnes added, “This is such a perfect opportunity to bring data into the policy-making conversation. As we work toward a better future for Acadiana, the dashboard allows our community to have a shared understanding of where we are and see real measures of progress as we move forward.”

About One Acadiana

One Acadiana is the leading economic development organization for the nine-parish Acadiana region located in south Louisiana. With more than 600 investors, members, and partners, One Acadiana serves as the voice of the regional business community. The organization is located in the city of Lafayette and serves a region of nearly 700,000 people with a vibrant culture and unique entrepreneurial spirit. Learn more at OneAcadiana.org.

About the Blanco Center

The Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center at UL Lafayette is an independent, interdisciplinary research center and archive, bringing together experts from different academic departments to conduct research, host colloquia and provide training for community leaders and elected officials. The Blanco Center advances evidence-based public policy to make Louisiana a better place to live and work. Learn more at blancocenter.louisiana.edu.

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