Two significant contributors to Lafayette’s strong standing in the international community were announced Tuesday as winners of the 17th annual International Achievement Award by one of the organizations they helped set up decades ago.
The Lafayette International Center Foundation announced that it would hold a ceremony in April to present the award to former Lafayette Mayor Dud Lastrapes and former Lafayette Director of Community Development Director Phil Lank. Both men will be honored at a ceremony April 21 during this year’s Festival International de Louisiane, which runs April 10-24. The event will be held inside the festival’s hospitality suite.
The two men were instrumental in creating the city’s International Trade Division and Le Centre International, now known as the Lafayette International Center. Both were established in 1989, a time when a years-long oil slump led to a moribund local economy in south Louisiana, especially in Lafayette.
“Their initiative strengthened the distressed 1989 economy by maximizing Acadiana’s existing cultural, industrial and educational ties into international opportunities for commerce and tourism,” Leslee Haseltine, chairperson for the achievement award, said at a news conference Tuesday.
Lank, who was community development director from 1977 until 1992, was instrumental in organizing and putting on the first Festival International de Louisiane in 1986. He also helped expand the Lafayette Municipal Auditorium, now the Heymann Center, the Acadiana Park Nature Station, the Lafayette Science Museum and other centers that draw thousands of visitors every year.
Lastrapes was mayor of Lafayette from 1980 to 1992. His accomplishments include construction of the Cajundome, the Camellia Bridge and expanding and strengthening Lafayette’s ties with its international sister cities.