As parts of the city continue to expand, Ford describes some areas on the Northside as untouched. “We want to be a platform and vehicle where our business people can come together and create ideas and synergy around the community and address the social disconnect that we have,” he added.
That disconnect he describes is what is now qualified as Census Track 11 of the Opportunity Zones. “This is the majority of the African American community and comprises the largest portion our sandbox as we call it,” said Strategizer Ravis Martinez.
Martinez noted that seven areas have qualified for this track of the change in poverty, unemployment rates, affordable housing, and stability. “If you look a little bit larger, you look at all the other investments and opportunities that are happening around us… we’re speaking into the spirit of uplifting the community that needs it the most,” he added.
Putting local stakeholders in a central location for a “festival of ideas” is how the group begins to embark on this project. “We’re eager to work with them to ensure we are building a one Lafayette and we’re very inclusive and everybody is at the table to make this work,” Martinez added.
“Everyone doesn’t know all the compliance issues, all the compliance errors. So, everyone starts on equal footing. It’s that equal footing that will allow us to dive into this space and move forward,” Royal Hill, the Chief Operating Officer added.
The event wrapped up with two breakout sessions focused on policy changes and business ideas. P.O.D. is partnering with local entities including One Acadiana, LEDA, LCG, and Downtown Development to launch upcoming projects.