UL-Lafayette students to work on Youngsville master plan _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Traffic rolls around the veterans' memorial roundabout at the intersection of East Milton Avenue and Chemin Metairie Road Thursday in Youngsville.

Youngsville has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past decade — all without the benefit of a master plan.

City officials are now trying to rectify that, with the help of two University of Louisiana at Lafayette professors and their students.

“We have all talked recently about our plan for the future,” Councilman Ken Ritter said. “We have a lot to be proud of, but one thing on our mind is should we do more? Are we going to be a bedroom (community) for Lafayette, and if we are, what can we do to be the premier bedroom for Lafayette?”

Patricia Lanier, a marketing professor who also works with the Executive Master of Business Administration program at UL-Lafayette, said her students and those of fellow UL-Lafayette professor Geoffrey Stewart will begin collecting data immediately.

“We are looking not just where the city is now but where do we see it five years from now,” Lanier said. “We will look at comparable cities nationwide and get ideas on how we can do it here.”

Youngsville’s population as of July 2012 was estimated at 8,985, an increase of 880 over the 2010 census count of 8,105 — a trend that’s expected to continue.

Lanier said the UL-Lafayette students will do a complete marketing plan and economic analysis for Youngsville. They also will do a competitive analysis of all surrounding cities of comparable size.

“The competitive analysis will also include Lafayette,” Lanier said. “It’s a little bit different than a business (analysis), but it has a lot of similarities as well.”

Lanier said students will survey residents and speak to businesses to gauge community needs. The students also will look at city staffing levels and examine any human resources issues. She said most of the residents will be surveyed electronically.

“All that we require is full access to all information,” Lanier said. “For nonprofits, you have to be transparent, so that will be fairly easy.”

Lanier said the university’s classes perform this service at no charge. She said the benefit to the students is the hands-on experience of working in a consulting situation.

Mayor Wilson Viator encouraged the council, as well as residents, to make themselves readily available to Lanier’s and Stewart’s students.

“Take a little time out of your day to give them some ideas,” Viator said. “This is the only way to find out what the citizens need. Let’s give them as much cooperation as we can so we can get some really good results from this.”