Advocate To Host Acadiana Economic Outlook Summit on January 15, 2020
Adam Daigle, Business Editor of the Acadiana Advocate, joined the newspaper in August 2018 as the organization ramped up its daily business coverage online and in print. Its daily email business newsletter has consistently continued to add online subscribers as it feeds the need for local, up-to-date business news.
On this Discover Lafayette podcast, Adam Daigle joined Jan Swift to discuss 2019 business news, the Advocate’s upcoming January 15, 2020, Economic Outlook Summit to be held at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, and his love for Louisiana and why he moved back when the opportunity to work with The Advocate allowed him to be closer to family.
The Advocate is Louisiana’s largest newspaper and has experienced tremendous growth as it recently acquired the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and brought on extensive talent from other local newspapers. Adam shared that he feels The Advocate has “assembled an all-star team” that delivers the “best of the best” in news coverage.
A 1995 graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University in Journalism and a native of Gonzales, Adam previously worked for the Tulsa World in Oklahoma for 12 years before returning to his home state of Louisiana. Adam served as a sports editor and later executive editor of The Lion’s Roar, Southeastern’s student newspaper. He and his wife, Shelly, have four children and are members of Asbury United Methodist Church in Lafayette.
2019 was a time of economic resurgence in Lafayette Parish, as retail sales continued to climb at a pace that may equal the all-time high previously reached in 2014 experienced prior to the oil and gas downturn which severely dampened the local economy. The Lafayette Regional Airport has counted a record number of travelers, also rivaling 2014 prior to the downturn. Real estate sales overall in Acadiana are breaking records, with St. Landry and Iberia Parishes doing exceptionally well. Job growth is steady, with a 4.3% unemployment rate, a sign that Lafayette’s economy has recovered and stabilized.
The biggest news of 2019 has no doubt been that of Chris Meaux’s startup restaurant delivery service, Waitr, which has experienced extreme highs and lows since it went public early in its development, then acquired Bite Squad out of Minneapolis which brought on extreme debt and a consequent dramatic fall in its stock price.
2019’s biggest business news story involved Waitr’s dramatic fall in value as it acquired Bite Squad, had massive layoffs, and changed fee structures imposed upon its restaurant partners.
Other compelling 2019 business news came late in the year and involved mergers of two solid companies based in Lafayette: (1) Lafayette General Health’s merger with Oschner Health System; and (2) IBERIABANK’s planned merger with First Horizon out of Memphis, TN which will enable more investment in advanced technologies and innovate practices. Both deals involve mergers of equals, which are anticipated to allow strong business growth locally in the Lafayette market and beyond.
Health and Information Technology job markets are hot in Acadiana, especially in Lafayette Parish, and attract young, educated workers needed to combat the out-migration of Louisiana’s talent. While Adam Daigle recently wrote a series of articles on the out-migration of our under 34-year old educated populace, the majority of Louisiana towns that are losing talent are situated in North Louisiana and rural areas of the state. Adam lamented that some small towns’ only source of revenue was their water department and cited examples such as Bogalusa and Clarence who may be going bankrupt due to the loss of the young people and businesses who are leaving for bigger cities and opportunities.
Adam Daigle wrote a series of articles on Louisiana’s outmigration. Data Compiled by UL Economist Gary Wagner using census, American Community Survey Data. “The Bayou State has long been a donor state.”
The closing of Walmart in North Lafayette was also a big news story that greatly impacted residents in the area who depend on affordable and accessible goods. The recent opening of the Carencro Walmart located just a few miles north drew business from the older Walmart on N. Evangeline Thruway and led to the company’s decision to close the less profitable store. Adam spoke of the hope of revitalizing Northgate Mall with the opening of three new businesses by minority, local entrepreneurs and the long-term commitment shown by Home Sweet Home who is an anchor tenant in Northgate Mall and with no plans on moving out.
On January 15, 2020, The Acadiana Advocate will host its second annual Economic Outlook Summit at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, 101 W. Vermilion in Lafayette, with breakfast available at 7:30 a.m. and discussion beginning at 8 a.m. Panelists for the Summit and their bios are listed here. Tickets may be purchased for $20 at TheAcadianaAdvocate/EconomicOutlook. This event is a great opportunity to hear from a variety of business leaders about their thoughts on the upcoming business cycle in 2020. Adam Daigle and Managing Editor Kristen Askelson will moderate the panel.
Pictured below is Flo Meadows, a commercial realtor with Latter & Blum who will be a featured speaker at the 2020 Acadiana Advocate Economic Outlook Summit.
Discover Lafayette would like to thank Adam Daigle for his tireless promotion of our podcast in The Acadiana Advocate’s Monday and Thursday online business newsletter! We are also grateful for The Advocate team’s support, including Publisher Judi Terzotis, Managing Editor Fred Kalmbach, and Digital Director Kyle Whitfield, who have provided their expertise and encouragement to Jan Swift and Discover Lafayette in our mission to shine the light on South Louisiana’s people, culture, history, and opportunities for success.