Where Infrastructure is Key
Business View interviews Ray Bourque, Mayor of Broussard, Louisiana, for our focus on Growth and Economic Development in U.S. Cities
If you want to run a successful city, you first have to take care of its residents. That’s the mantra for Broussard, Louisiana Mayor Ray Bourque, who shares, “We want to make sure we are supportive of our residents, and supportive of our businesses that are here, because they are what is important for our city if we are going to look at growth in the future. We have to be a healthy place for people to work and live.”
And he believes the best way to accomplish that is through infrastructure. “Infrastructure in my opinion is key,” says Bourque. “Because for healthy growth you have to keep the pace up and having a well thought out plan for the city is something we work on constantly. We take the time to plan projects and where we want to go. We want to continue efforts for quality of life in our city.”
Located in the Lafayette parish of Louisiana, the city of approximately 12,000 residents, as estimated by the US Census, has undergone many infrastructure improvements in recent years. Following major flooding that hit Southern Louisiana in 2016, Broussard made a big commitment to improve drainage infrastructure and that has continued ever since. They have also been upgrading and expanding capabilities for clean drinking water, the city’s ability to handle and process wastewater, as well as road improvements.
Bourque emphasizes, “If our city is going to be able to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves for economic growth and quality of life improvements, we have to have the most stable base that we can and those infrastructure improvements are vital. When a company is looking at moving here, we want to be in a position that we can handle that growth. It’s part of quality of life for our citizens. It’s just a fundamental responsibility of municipal government to be able to supply infrastructure needs so people can be successful, live here, work here, go to school here and have success in those things and not have to always play the game of catch up.”
In addition to underground infrastructure, Broussard has been investing in above-ground recreation options for its citizens. A 122-acre, state-of-the-art sports complex was completed four years ago, giving residents access to baseball diamonds, and soccer/football fields, as well as a professional disc golf course, splash pad, and walking trails. “These things are at home in Broussard for our residents and it just makes us a more attractive place to live,” says Bourque. “These kind of things help us grow because people want to live in our city. If you supply quality of life for your residents, then a tourism initiative is natural. People want to come and see what you have to offer and they want to enjoy the spaces you have created.”
Broussard’s next major infrastructure project has turned into a major revitalization opportunity for the city’s downtown core. Envision Downtown Broussard, the city’s main street corridor master plan to rejuvenate the downtown coincides with infrastructure updates that needed to be done on the city’s main street. Bourque explains, “It gave us the opportunity to do something on a higher level for Broussard. We thought about, if we are going to open up the earth to change water lines and sewer lines, how are we going to put it back? What can we do for our city? In the downtown area, which is the heart of the city, beautifying it and making it more useable for our residents and creating some economic opportunities for businesses to come in and supply new services like restaurants and shops, seemed like a natural path for us.”
In addition to water lines, sewer lines and increased drainage, Broussard’s downtown will get a new grand entrance featuring a fresh gateway entrance sign. Historic oak trees will be protected, lit, and cleaned up, and a 10-foot walking path for pedestrians and bikers will be created to increase walkability. There will be places for public art, more parking, and electric car charging. They will also aim to define the historic downtown area to increase the charm and will be highlighting their historic homes and buildings with historic markers to help tell the story of Broussard’s history.
“Broussard has been looking at downtown improvements for many years,” says Bourque. “There haven’t been any significant improvements in that area in my lifetime, which is 49 years. What I’m hearing from some of the folks that are older than I am is that it’s been 60 plus years. People were very interested in our history and highlighting our downtown area, but they were also interested in having it refreshed; trying to create a destination where you can spend a Sunday afternoon and a business can supply lunch, dinner, having new shops and just making it more useable for our residents. Since planning and public input began, we’ve seen private investors and property owners begin to improve existing buildings and build new ones. Which is just what we want – to create opportunity and excitement in Downtown Broussard.”
Broussard has also taken over the lease of Arceneaux Park from its parish. The 30-acre park sits in the heart of downtown and will become the ideal spot for festivals and events. The city has also purchased 10 acres of land adjacent to the park to build a new facility for its fire and police departments in the future. Bourque acknowledges, “They have many needs to keep up with the growth of Broussard, so we have to be supportive of our first responders and what they are dealing with every day. Space and technology is a real need for them, so we are happy that we are able to do these things in our downtown area, because it’s all going to be fitting in with our master plan. We work really hard to make these opportunities happen in a positive way for us.”
Broussard’s efforts to create a successful city have been working. Since the 2010 census the city has seen a significant amount of growth, and they are estimating a 60 per cent increase in population when the new census numbers arrive. The city has also proven itself to be an attractive place for businesses. Broussard is currently home to approximately 1,000 businesses of all sizes. Their large businesses include Doerle Food Service and Slemco Electrical, as well as large oilfield companies like WHC Energy Services and Halliburton.
“We have a healthy business sector here, but we are fortunate enough to be in the heart of the oil field area, so that’s been good for us,” Bourque says, adding, “Small businesses, including many shops and restaurants, give the city its charm. We have a lot of supportive businesses, which gives us a quaintness in Broussard. Restaurants do well here. Cajun food is popular; people love us for our food.”
The city is attractive to businesses looking for a home because of its many amenities, but also because there is no city-charged property tax. Broussard makes all of its tax revenue through its sales tax – it has to be earned before it’s collected, which is a great economic advantage when it comes to selling the city to potential businesses that want to locate here to supply services or manufacture products. Whatever the reason they come to Broussard, every person and business will be received with a general attitude of welcoming. “It’s their choice if they want to be here and we make it a point to thank people for making the investment, for choosing us,” says Bourque. “Whether they are a resident or business, it’s their choice, so it’s our job to be easy to do business with and to be the kind of place people want to do business with.”
Looking to the future, the city plans to keep on going as they have been, continuing to invest in infrastructure. But wherever Broussard goes from here, you can be assured that it will be well thought out. “It’s very important to me as the mayor that Broussard is following a plan,” Bourque shares. “I’m not a person that likes to do things off the cuff. Creating a plan, getting input from our council, our residents, our businesses, whoever we can, to make sure that we’re making the right decisions long term for the city and then following that plan.
Photos Courtesy of Cecil Fuselier
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AT A GLANCE
What: A growing city of 12,000
Where: Located in the Lafayette parish of Louisiana along highway I-90
Don’s Automotive Group – www.DwAutomotivegroup.com
Southern Louisiana’s own
Many super successful start-up companies had their humble beginnings in somebody’s garage – and Don’s Automotive Group is a great example. In 2004, owners Don and Danielle Mendoza took a leap of faith and opened for business with a single car in a rented shop – with very little traffic. Today, through hard work and persistence, Don’s Automotive Group has become one of the prominent independent automotive dealer groups in Louisiana. Their dealership has grown to include retail locations in Broussard, Lafayette, and Breaux Bridge, a parts/service/accessories/paint and body shop, and a large accounting department. The umbrella group Don’s Automotive features multiple brands – Mendoza Ford, POSH Preowned, Legacy GMC, Auto Rentals, Don Buys, DW Accessories, DW Service Center – names well known throughout the southern Louisiana region.
With a deep sense of community pride and commitment, and strong spiritual beliefs, the Mendozas share their good fortune by giving back to help others. In his personal and business life, Don operates with the philosophy: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” In that regard, he helps in causes such as the Down’s Syndrome Association and the families involved in Maddie’s Footprints, Trinity Outdoors, and more. That involvement has not gone unrecognized, as Don’s Automotive Group was recognized by the local government as a distinguished business and given the key to the City of Lafayette.
Don’s Automotive is a popular, go-to destination for consumers looking for big jacked up trucks, and they offer a wide selection of vehicles in newer makes and models. The dealership’s nationwide buying power let’s them find just the right vehicle for you. And they are experts at customizing your ride. Paying skilled attention to detail, Don’s performs a certified 172 point inspection on each vehicle and will customize it with anything from wheels, tires, tint, lifts, etc. before considering it lot ready. They’ve even done custom builds for customers through their accessories department and body shops.
Don’t Automotive truly takes pride in their outstanding inventory and unparalleled customer service. It’s what makes their brand the best in the biz. www.DwAutomotiveGroup.com
Thornton, Musso, & Bellemin, Inc – www.tmbwater.com