Alexandria, La. (February 3, 2022)—The Rebuilding SWLA Community Coalition was recently named as the Community Partner of the Year Award winner by the Louisiana Travel Association at the annual meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 2. Members of the coalition were communications teams for Visit Lake Charles, City of Lake Charles, Community Foundation, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, the City of Sulphur, Cameron Parish, the United Way of Southwest Louisiana, and the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.
Following Hurricane Laura in the fall of 2020, the City of Lake Charles worked alongside Visit Lake Charles, the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana, and the United Way of Southwest Louisiana to meet the needs of Southwest Louisiana’s citizens and businesses. Mayor Hunter and Kyle Edmiston, President/CEO of Visit Lake Charles, formalized the partnership with the inclusion Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, City of Sulphur and Cameron Parish to #RebuildSWLA. From there, Angie Manning, VP of Communications, coordinated with other members of the coalition to formulate a communications strategy and RebuildingSWLA.org website.
“At the start of 2020 Southwest Louisiana was making national headlines with one of the fastest growing economies. That all changed, seemingly overnight. In the midst of a global pandemic, back-to-back hurricanes, a winter ice storm and a 1,000-year flood event brought unprecedented damages and challenges to our doorstep,” said Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter. “Despite facing four federally declared natural disasters in less than one year, there was still so much hope to be found. The Rebuilding SWLA Coalition was born out of the belief that we would rise united, as one resilient community. We knew our voices would be stronger together. We created a platform that allowed us to share our individual recovery stories and advocate for the ongoing needs within our community. It is an honor to be recognized by the Louisiana Travel Association for these efforts.”
“Working with other communications professionals from the coalition was eye-opening and rewarding as we were able to share information and easily work together to create clarity with the messages that we all needed to communicate to the public, volunteer groups and media partners. We are fortunate to have such a powerful spirit of cooperation in Southwest Louisiana whenever it comes to coming together as a team,” said Manning, VP of Communications for Visit Lake Charles.
In November of 2020, Visit Lake Charles formally launched a CommUNITY of Resilience initiative to share a message of unity and resilience with local stakeholders and potential visitors. A CommUNITY video was created for VisitLakeCharles.org and distributed via social media on Facebook and YouTube, and via press release to amplify the spirit of the people and rebuilding of Southwest Louisiana. Visit Lake Charles also encouraged donations for relief efforts locally through community partners United Way of Southwest Louisiana and Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana.
The coalition created content for resiliency stories to be featured on the Rebuilding SWLA platforms, curating fresh content from community partners and building the fanbase for the Facebook page. Each entity has administrative rights on the Facebook page, and the communications teams are working together to generate new ideas and effective ways to reach the public and visiting public regarding progress being made as well as humanitarian efforts underway in the region.
In the Spring of 2021, the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana worked with a local agency and members of the Rebuilding SWLA Community Coalition to produce a Community Hope video “Shout It from the Rooftops” The video has reached over 150k people and tallied more than 54,000 views. It was even shared by GRAMMY winning Louisiana artist Lauren Daigle. Beyond that, in the summer of 2021, this video even inspired another city across the United States to produce its own version of “Shout It from the Rooftops” featuring Bakersfield artists, with the city looking for brighter days ahead recovering from COVID!
On July 27, 2021, exactly one month prior to the anniversary of Hurricane Laura, Mayor Hunter spearheaded a Help SWLA Now campaign with a video and call to help directed at Washington, D.C. Visit Lake Charles live broadcast the press conference to the RebuildingSWLA Facebook page and worked with the Louisiana Travel Association to help spread the word for advocacy efforts.
For more information on the Louisiana Travel Association, visit www.louisianatravelassociation.org.