Downtown Lafayette Seeks New Visionary Leader as CEO Anita Begnaud Bids Farewell
Downtown Lafayette is on the lookout for a new trailblazer to lead its ongoing development into the future. The Lafayette Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has formally commenced its search for a fresh Chief Executive Officer, as Anita Begnaud makes her exit for a prestigious role out-of-state.
After a transformative tenure of over half a decade, Begnaud leaves a legacy of significant progress and development. Under her guidance, the DDA saw downtown occupancy soar above 90%, the establishment of a downtown police precinct to bolster economic growth, and the introduction of nearly 200 new residential units — with another 300 on the horizon.
Begnaud's new venture as Vice President of Marketing and Communications with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership marks a significant personal and professional milestone. It is an organization renowned for its excellence and is a testament to the caliber of expertise she brought to Downtown Lafayette.
Reflecting on her journey, Begnaud shared her mixed emotions about departing a role she describes as her "dream job," especially as it served the community she cherishes deeply. Yet, she remains enthusiastic about the future, confident in the dynamic team and the solid foundation laid for the next wave of development and prosperity for the city's core.
It’s never easy to leave your dream job, particularly when it serves the heart of a community you have loved all your life. In my five years at the helm of DDA and DLU, we’ve seen tremendous results: significant business growth with more than 60 new businesses opening or expanding downtown; occupancy on Jefferson Street is at more than 90 percent; the opening a downtown police precinct -- after more than a decade of safety discussions -- to act as a strategic problem-solving partner; year-round programming that effectively attracts foot-traffic to the district; and most importantly, progress toward reaching downtown’s residential potential, with nearly 200 units constructed over the past three years and another 300 in the pipeline. Downtown is positioned for even more exciting growth in the coming years.
I am incredibly proud of how far downtown has come in five years. I’m so grateful for this experience and excited for the next leader to step into a highly effective, aspirational organization with a dynamic team that has been focused on reaching the next level of economic opportunity for the heart of the region.
DDA Chairman Miles Matt highlights the expectations set for the incoming CEO, who will inherit a position of influence and opportunity. With goals like securing a full-service hotel, amplifying residential investment, and enhancing connectivity with the historic neighborhoods and the University, the role is pivotal for the sustained vibrancy and growth of Downtown Lafayette.
Through her timeless dedication to the DDA and to Lafayette, Anita has been a catalyst that propelled enrichment and growth in downtown Lafayette. She has elevated the significance of DDA to ally in economic growth and development. Our next leader must take this now elevated role to further fulfill our expectations, with our present goals of securing a full-service hotel, attracting greater residential investment and connecting our historic neighborhoods and our University. A heartfelt community thanks goes out to Anita and we wish her well on the next chapter of her career.
An interim CEO will assume the helm before Begnaud’s departure on December 20, ensuring a seamless transition while a national search is conducted for a permanent successor.
The DDA, a governmental entity, and its non-profit partner, Downtown Lafayette Unlimited (DLU), have been instrumental in driving private development and public improvements, fostering a spirit of community, culture, and business within the heart of the city. Together, they work closely with a diverse group of stakeholders to continue the revitalization and evolution of Downtown Lafayette.
For those intrigued by the opportunity to shape the future of Downtown Lafayette or to learn more about the DDA's mission and impact, additional information can be found at the organization's website downtownlafayette.org.