It didn’t take Laina Brickley long to realize the Opelousas area is indeed a special place with a unique vibe.
The newly-selected St. Landry Chamber of Commerce CEO thinks the parish definitely has what she describes as a “different feel,” that incorporates a style of networking that has made her seem welcomed almost immediately.
“It’s the people. When you get here, you feel like family almost instantly,” says Brickley, who moved to Louisiana with her husband Andrew from Ohio in 2016.
Brickley assumed her role as Chamber CEO on Jan. 1 and has been impressed by the numbers of visitors that have already entered her office at 109 West Vine St.
“We have people who have popped in and out almost constantly. What I want to do to help all of us become acquainted is reach out to the local businesses and civic leaders. We plan to start doing that in the next couple of weeks each Friday at Java Square to create networking opportunities over coffee,” Brickley says.
Brickley obtained a degree from Kent State University and later graduated from University of Toledo law school. Andrew Brickley is currently vice-president of business development at Opelousas General Health Systems, said Brickley.
It was her husband, Brickley notes, that first noticed there is an attractiveness about working and living in the Opelousas area.
“Andrew flew down here for his job interview and when he called me he seemed so excited about Opelousas. It was mainly because of the history, the culture and the people of the area,” she said.
Laina Brickley was employed as the operations director at Habitat for Humanity in Lafayette before she accepted her role at the Chamber. The office staff includes executive assistant Valli Soileau and bookkeeper Yvonne Perkins.
Brickley says she had been looking for an opportunity to acquire a leadership role to complement her management degree and experience when the Chamber position opened.
“I thought it was time for me to take the next step in my personal growth. I really am feeling comfortable here and my background would help me in what I plan to accomplish,” she notes.
Brickley describes herself as a laid back leader. “I listen before I speak,” Brickley points out.
Parish business community members Brickley says, have indicated they want to see more Chamber programs aimed towards assisting small enterprises.
Brickley said she plans to continue the Leadership St. Landry programs beginning later in January as well as hosting an April 27 business summit at the Opelousas Civic Center, with guest speakers and booths that advertise businesses.
On May 10, the Chamber will again sponsor another major fund raiser by hosting the annual Casino Nights, says Brickley.