St. Bernard Parish, LA (May 19, 2015) — The St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation (SBEDF) announced today that it is expanding its Working on the Water (WOW) initiative to provide continued education and outreach that supports the individuals and businesses engaged in commercial fishing, coastal restoration, eco-tourism, and disaster response in St. Bernard Parish.
The first annual Working on Water summit was held in October 2014, and under the leadership of its new executive director Andrew Jacques and through a partnership with the Regional Planning Commission (RPC), SBEDF is growing the initiative to include more programming that will be held continuously throughout the year.
“The success of last year’s WOW demonstrated that there is a lot more that we can do in this space to engage fishermen and create opportunities for them to increase their annual earnings,” said Jacques. “We are excited to have partnered with the Regional Planning Commission. The resources they are contributing will allow us to grow WOW’s capacity.”
The first of a number of free events is being held on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at The Entrepreneur Center at Nunez Community College in the second floor of the AST Building at 3710 Paris Road in Chalmette. “Casting a Wide Net: Hands-On Assistance with State and Federal Grants” will share information on and assistance with the USDA Added Producer Grant, which offers matching funds of 50% up to $200,000 as well as other grant opportunities.
“Anyone fishing in our region should come to learn about the USDA Grant, otherwise they could be leaving free money on the table,” said Jacques.
Experts will be on site at the event to help applicants complete major components of the grant application on site. State and Federal representatives will also be available to provide information and introduce other upcoming grant opportunities.
Additional upcoming WOW events include: “Reeling ‘Em In: Successful Branding and Marketing for Your Coastal Business” on July 28; “Finding New Pearls in the Oyster Bed: Cultivating Additional Business” on September 22; and “Avoiding Traps in the Water: Navigating Laws and Regulations for Your Coastal Business” on November 10. More information on these events and other WOW programs can be found at workingonthewater.com or by calling (504) 569-9239 Ex. 24.
SBEDF’s partnership with the RPC is making the expanded WOW programming possible. The RPC is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) locally designated Economic Development District and is utilizing a portion of available EDA funds for this partnership.
Locally-based TMG Consulting was awarded the contract to serve as program manager for WOW, organizing all of the education outreach initiatives.
In addition to SBEDF and RPC, WOW activities are guided by an advisory committee consisting of representatives from Nunez Community College, the Meraux Foundation, St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Small Business Administration, Louisiana Small Business Development Center, TruFund, Leadership St. Bernard, LiftFund, St. Bernard Parish Office of Tourism, GNO, Inc., and National Wildlife Federation’s Vanishing Paradise Program.
About Working on the Water
WOW was conceived following the Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill. With coastal communities unsure of their economic and business futures, the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation proactively commissioned a study to research economic and job opportunities for those whose livelihoods were impacted by the oil spill. That study resulted in three key recommendations and an action plan for economic development and government partners in affected areas in Southeast Louisiana. They were to create more value and increase profitability to current fisheries' activities by developing a working waterfront with an open, online marketplace; develop a workforce for Coastal Restoration projects based upon the skills, resources, and assets of those already familiar with and working on the water; and build a new economic sector in eco-tourism to allow those that are interested or already working on the water to generate additional income in their down time with the skills, assets, and resources they already have at hand.
As these three recommendations evolved through the partnerships of many local organizations and supporters, the need to actually connect these opportunities to the individuals working on the water became apparent. In the fall of 2013, a small group led by the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation, the Regional Planning Commission, and Nunez Community College began planning the event slated for later this month.
About St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation
Our mission is to promote economic development and commercial growth of St. Bernard, and to lead the initiation of partnering organizations seeking to improve the quality of life for St. Bernard Parish citizens. To achieve this mission, SBEDF primarily engages in business attraction, retention, and expansion. Additionally, workforce development and policy development are pursued as key initiatives to drive economic development activities.
The St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation has been recognized by IRS as a 501 (C)(3) Non-Profit Organization. The Board of Directors consists of 28 voting members and 8 non-voting honorary members and public officials, all of which serve as volunteers to the organization. All members of the Board adhere to the By-laws Conflict of Interest Policy of the organization which requires all members to refrain from entering into transactions or arrangements that might benefit the private interest of a Director of the organization or might result in a possible benefit transaction to any Director of the Board.
The St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation has engaged in a number of positive activities since its organization incorporation in December of 2005. These activities include marketing the parish to businesses, providing grants, loans, information and expertise on a number of State and Federal Programs.
All of the activities described above are funded by contributions from business and industry and grants obtained by the organization. The organization does not operate under any other alternate names.