Plans to expand an Opelousas pediatric clinic have St. Landry Parish officials hopeful for more development along Interstate 49.

Lily Pad Pediatrics had a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for a new clinic and office that will replace the space it has outgrown in Opelousas General Hospital. It was met with a crowd that braved blustery cold Friday morning to support three Acadiana natives — doctors Emily Simon, Allison Hatfield and Sarah Ardoin — who returned home to start the clinic in 2013.

"We're always wondering how we can keep or get back our young talent and professionals and I really think this is a sign we're moving in the right direction to do that," St. Landry Economic Development Executive Director Bill Rodier said. "We are trying to capitalize on the growth that is coming along the I-49 corridor and we're going to see more to come in 2019."

Rodier hinted at plans for three more medical facilities around the Judson Walsh Drive exit off I-49, which already saw groundbreakings for a new Honda dealership and a Opelousas location for Our Savior's Church. 

The parish is also working on expanding sewage and utilities and do traffic studies to the area as they are seeing even more development in the future, according to State Rep. Dustin Miller.

For Hatfield, Simon and Ardoin, the groundbreaking signifies their commitment to the people of Opelousas and St. Landry Parish.

"I grew up in Sunset and always dreamed of coming back to this area as a physician and caring for the people of this wonderful community," Simon said. "This is our home and we love being here in Acadiana. This region has such wonderful people and we love the relationships we have developed with all of our patients and their families."

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