Each month I am truly excited to attend my Leadership Tangipahoa session and see what is in store for us!
On November 13, we started the day at Smitty’s Supply in Roseland. The story behind Smitty’s and how it became what it is today is a perfect example of rags to riches tale. The Smith brothers started out by selling auto parts out of their van and have grown to a $200 million company. Smitty’s makes their own Super S, SureGuard and Tri-Star brands along with other major brand auto parts, lubricants and other fluids and chemicals across the United States and around the world. Michael Vaughn gave us a tour of the plant and told us about an 8 acre expansion they are about to begin. Michael’s energy and enthusiasm for his job were felt by the entire class. I would like to thank Michael and the rest of the Smitty’s employees for showing us what a great resource we have in our own backyard of Tangipahoa Parish.
Our next destination was the Southeastern Small Business Development Center. Bill Joubert, Bob Basford and Stacey Neal (Leadership classmate) gave us a background on what takes place at their center. Their mission is to improve Louisiana's economy through job creation and increased tax revenues. They offer FREE business consulting and affordable training seminars. Thank you Bill, Bob and Stacey for opening my eyes to this great center that I will certainly refer businesses to!
We headed to Trey Yuen for lunch before going to our next destination. Lunch was sponsored by the Tangipahoa Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau. We got to thank the Tangipahoa CVB in person because that was our next stop.
The Tangipahoa Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau has moved into their new building off of Wardline Road. It is a state of the art facility with a wealth of information about Tangipahoa Parish. Betty Stewart and Emily McKneely gave us a tour and also told us about their main goal: “putting heads in beds”. Dick Cyr of Stirling Properties was there to give us a presentation on the development of the new Hammond Square Mall. Mayor Mayson Foster was also there to discuss this huge project for Hammond.
Our last destination of the day was U.S. Customs and Border Protection. We were greeted by Brian Harrell, Karen Coffman and Grant Sibley. The main goal of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is to manage, control, and protect the nation’s borders. They perform weekly missions, and they can range from as far north as Canada and as far south to the Caribbean Islands. I would like to say thank you to everyone at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office for keeping us safe and protecting our country.
The purpose of today’s Leadership Tangipahoa session was to familiarize our class with economic development activities and organizations and to understand the role that tourism and various key companies play in the economic vitality of Tangipahoa Parish. I am proud to be part of this Leadership Tangipahoa class of 2008. I would like to thank the Board at the Hammond Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring me to be a part of something so extraordinary!