Three economic developers invited to University of Texas Austin XLR8 Leadership Program

Staff Report

Three local economic development leaders have been selected to participate in the prestigious University of Texas Austin XLR8 Strategic Planning and Leadership Program. Kate MacArthur, Juanita Pearley and Lee Melancon were all invited to participate in the program and are working diligently to solidify the strategic plans for the City of Donaldsonville.

The XLR8 program is a new type of “accelerator” for community economic development. In the XLR8 program, community leaders are invited to participate where they will identify opportunities for growth benefitting from regional assets, building on regional collaborations and impacting community economic and quality of life. Regional XLR8 builds on IC2 Institute’s 40-plus years of “thinking and doing,” where best entrepreneurial practices are defined and applied to regional economic development resulting in more than $4.5 billion in economic impact. In XLR8, community leaders will be able to develop new programs, rapidly measure outcomes, and refine for maximum impact

The team has furthered the work that was begun in October to finalize the City of Donaldsonville Strategic Plan. They have worked with numerous experts and are completing the final components of the plan which will be presented to the XLR8 Program Facilitators and other communities across Texas. The team has been instrumental in sharing numerous examples and successes and has demonstrated a large number of strategies that other communities will emulate. Likewise, the team has gathered and modeled a number of their recommendations for the plan from like communities in Texas. Once, completed, the team will release the full plan.

Kate MacArthur, is the President and CEO of the Ascension Economic Development Corporation. As President and CEO, Kate leads the continued development of Ascension Parish including new business recruitment and existing industry expansion projects. She is originally from the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania and relocated to the region in 2006 where she has served in numerous economic development roles.

Kate MacArthur

A seasoned executive and economic developer, MacArthur has more than 15 years of experience recruiting companies and assisting existing industry through expansion projects. Prior to joining AEDC, MacArthur served as the Executive Director of the Zachary Chamber of Commerce and was responsible for oversight of all Chamber activities as well as developing and managing a comprehensive economic development program for Zachary. Prior to that, Kate was the director of marketing and existing industry for the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation in South Carolina.

During her time at the MBREDC, she won the 2012 Best Target Marketing award from Southern Economic Development Council. She has also served as director of business intelligence for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and is the author of: Economics at Work: Creative Marketing Solutions for Lead Generation in a Regional Development Agency published in Business Economics, October 2009.

Kate received a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies with a specialty in International Affairs from Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Penn., and a Master of Science in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss. She also holds an Economic Development Finance Professional designation from the National Development Council.

Juanita Pearley

Pearley is the executive director of the Donaldsonville Chamber of Commerce and Donaldsonville Tourist Information Center. She has 25 years of experience as a legal executive and 10 years in finance in banking. She has held positions from president to secretary within the community, state and church organizations. Pearley’s approach to her current position is to assist the members of the chamber, the citizens of the City of Donaldsonville and tourists in the best way possible. Her philosophy is “whatever or however the chamber can assist you, we will be there for guidance and provide the information you may need.”

She serves as a commissioner for the Donaldsonville Downtown Development District, the Main Street Program, a board member for the Ascension Fund, President Elect of the Donaldsonville Rotary Club, Rotary Club District 6200, Assistant District Governor, and serves as a board member for the Ascension Head Start Policy Council. She is the President of the Emmanuel Baptist Church Senior Ushers, Financial Secretary of Emmanuel Baptist Church, and volunteers as a newspaper columnist for The Donaldsonville Chief column “Around Town”.

Lee Melancon

Melancon is the Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Donaldsonville. He has served previous roles for the University of Phoenix as the Director of Development, Campus College Chair, Director of Academic Affairs and the Louisiana Campus and Academic President. He also served as General Manager for Carter Companies and Carter PR, Graphics, and Event Management Firm, and the Chief of Participant Development for the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

He has over 20 years of public relations, marketing, management, association and non-profit leadership, entrepreneurship, and higher education experience. Since 1992, Lee has earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with minors in English Composition and French, a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication specialized in Advertising and Marketing, a Master of Mass Communication specialized in Public Relations and Marketing all from Louisiana State University, and a Master of Management specialized in Consulting from University of Phoenix.

He is an expert in nonprofit (community service and association), municipality, entrepreneurship, and economic development. Lee volunteers as the Executive Director for the Microbusiness Enterprise Corporation of Ascension, a small business development center, and the Microbusiness Network of Louisiana, an association representing practitioners in the field of microbusiness development.

He is highly skilled in strategic planning, brand management, event / festival management and social and digital media management. He is a grant writer and reviewer for numerous state and federal grant programs and has raised millions of dollars for clients over his career.

For more information or to provide feedback on the plan during the final phase of public input, contact Lee Melancon at 225.445.1383 or by