Brown steps aside as director of Evangeline Chamber
After nearly 19 months as director of the Evangeline Chamber of Commerce, Renee Brown is stepping aside to pursue another opportunity in the parish she calls home.
The biggest undertaking Brown led during her tenure was giving the chamber more of a parish presence.
“Whenever I was president in 2015,” she said, “I had asked the chamber for us to look at becoming a parish chamber. I was met with a lot of concerns on how we would do it. They tried something similar in the past, and it didn’t work. I’m so glad that we did try it again. It’s working, and we are growing in all the areas of the parish.”
Another big area in which Brown led was tourism as she was also director of the Evangeline Tourism Commission. “The only way people had access to anything was if they had our phone number or walked through the front door,” Brown said. “We have completely changed that, and, now, we have a Webpage and brochures. We are now an official visitor center and have all the same information and all the same access that all of the visitor centers have in the whole state.”
Brown continued, “Then we have a Facebook presence. We have almost 2,000 followers just on Facebook with the tourism side. Our name is getting out there, and what happens in Evangeline Parish is getting out there. It’s bringing a lot more traffic to town.”
The changes in tourism, along with assistance from the Project Engage students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, have Evangeline Tourism now poised to be available for grant opportunities.
“Now that we’ve got a Webpage and our brochures,” Brown said, “we have given Project Engage the task of helping write the grant application. It’s a marketing grant that we weren’t ready for before. We put the foundation in place for that, and that can get us to the next step and the next level for our parish. Tourism is part of economic development.
Brown also led in helping get work started on U.S. Highway 167 and led efforts to beautify the City of Ville Platte.
“When I first started here,” she said, “the very first thing my phone started ringing about was how dirty the town is. It was something people kept talking about over and over.”
“We took the initiative and started doing it ourselves,” Brown continued. “From that we have watched more organizations do it on their own. It was a good kind of servant leader position that we put ourselves in.”
Looking back on her time as director, Brown said, “I absolutely loved it. It’s been so much fun. What has been the best part about it is the people, the support, and the appreciation from everybody on all the great things we did. People were so willing to work with us. It was beautiful to watch unfold.”