About St. Mary Excel

St. Mary Excel commissioned a land use study performed by the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The goal was to learn how the areas of Morgan City and the town of Berwick could diversify the area’s economy using its major waterways to attract industry and grow its economy. St. Mary Excel, now a nonprofit, was initially a project of the St. Mary Foundation, an affiliate of Community Foundation of Acadiana. This project was led by Drs. Monica Mancuso and Alice Pecoraro, Catherine Holcomb, Laura Dozar, and Lucien Cutrera.

ULI is a nonprofit research and education organization with 40,000 members world-wide. Members are developers, engineers, architects, urban planners, bankers, investors, economic development specialists, market analysts, land use professionals, and real estate agents.

In 2018, an Urban Land Institute advisory services panel visited during a five-day period to gather research. Panelists focused on challenges of land use, economic development, real estate, urban planning, design, land economics, and public policy.

After touring assigned areas, the panel presented an oral recommendation at the close of the on-site assignment. A written report, with photographs and drawings, was provided to St. Mary Excel group.

St. Mary Excel secured more than $135,000 to fund this public-private partnership. Generous donors of government leaders and private community partners include the St. Mary Parish Council, the Port Commission of Morgan City, Morgan City Council, Hellenic Incorporated, Hancock Whitney Bank, the Town of Berwick, St. Mary Tourist Commission, B&G Foods/Taco Bell, Dr. Trey and Jennifer Morice, Bill and Judy Hidalgo, Conrad Family Foundation, Central Boats, Lapco Incorporated, Jodi and Burt Adams, Mike and Dianne Lind, in memory of Helen Laughlin by family members, Dr. Joseph Guarisco , A.J. Dohmann, Lucien Cutrera, Jason Akers, Bart and Monica Mancuso, Briant and Laura Dozar, Brian and Nancy Laughlin, and Linda and Sam Spitale.

Quality of Life Survey

In 2017, the St. Mary Chamber of Commerce and St. Mary Parish Tourism Commission performed a quality of life survey for Morgan City and Berwick.

A majority of those surveyed said they do not agree the area is doing enough to:

  • Attract businesses and entrepreneurial opportunities (64.4%)
  • Provide job opportunities that support young people staying in the area (73.8%)
  • Attract jobs that pay well and offer benefits (68.0%)

Several cities throughout Louisiana have commissioned an Urban Land Institute study such as New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Charity Hospital and the Claiborne Area Planned Development, Baton Rouge downtown revitalization, Lafayette downtown development, and Moncus Park in Lafayette. In addition, cities across the nation with a similar population to Morgan City and Berwick have commissioned the ULI to conduct studies.

St. Mary Foundation is a parish affiliate of Community Foundation of Acadiana (CFA). CFA is one of south Louisiana’s premier philanthropic organization benefiting our region, with a particular focus on the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Mary, St. Martin and Vermilion. CFA has realized cumulative gifts exceeding $308 million and has made cumulative grants of more than $158 million.