Now's the time to visit, return and invest in St. Bernard: A letter to the editor

August 28, 2015  --  Over the past two weeks, | The Times-Picayune has published pieces cataloguing the story of St. Bernardians who moved to St. Tammany and Livingston Parishes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It's easy to see why St. Tammany and Livingston are appealing, with their booming economies and family-friendly amenities. Perhaps more important to St. Bernard transplants, though, is they offer the intangibles that make St. Bernard special: "a sense of community, faith and friends."

We know the treasure that our peer parishes have acquired in the St. Bernardians who put down roots there. And while we wouldn't want to deprive anyone of their new residents, we do want to invite them back home. And anyone else looking for a family-friendly community with a first-class school system, high quality of life and the safest neighborhoods in the metropolitan area, look no farther than St. Bernard. 

St. Bernard's restoration is hitting its stride. It is the fastest-growing parish in the state from 2013 to 2014, and residential construction permits are up 150 percent in the first four months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.

Our A-rated public school system receives national accolades and features facilities that universities drool over. A brand new, state-of-the-art hospital now sits at 8000 West Judge Perez Drive, an area ripe for development. Val Riess Recreation Complex, a $20 million-plus investment, has become the premier baseball and softball complex in the state and beyond. The new Maumus Center features exhibits, science labs and a planetarium. The Meraux Foundation's Docville Farm campus includes a new River Observation Center and hosts innumerable community gatherings throughout the year. And the new 40 Arpent Wetlands Observatory offers an ideal setting for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. 

The cultural economy is booming too. The parish's signature festivals, like the Sugar Fest, Crawfish Fest and Islenos Fest remain and more have been added. St. Bernard is the model parish for how Hollywood South should operate and has a new, robust local film industry. And we created the Old Arabi Arts District to nurture artists and attract visitors. There, Studio Inferno hosts gallery openings fit for New York City's Chelsea Neighborhood just blocks from where globetrotting art collectors peruse high-end sculptures at Larkin Gaudet Studio. A few steps away, craft-beer connoisseurs enjoy tours of 40 Arpent Brewery. And down the block, regulars and hipsters alike enjoy live, local music at the Old Arabi Bar.

Ten years removed, St. Bernard has reached a tipping point. The momentum is real and now is the time to visit, return, join, invest and enjoy.  

Andrew P. Jacques

Executive Director

Joseph S. DiFatta Jr.


St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation

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