Creel Brothers recognized as business of the year

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 5, 2016

Creel Brothers of Franklinton was named the business of the year Monday night, during the annual joint meeting between the Franklinton Chamber of Commerce, Franklinton Area Economic Development Foundation and the Washington Economic Development Foundation.

“We share this award with our current and former employees,” owner Mike Creel said. “We are appreciative of their wisdom and generosity.”

Creel said the company had recently hired some new employees to help them branch out into new technologies.

“Keep moving forward,” he said. “If not, you become stagnant and you eventually begin to regress.”

The meeting was held at the Caddy Shack on the River restaurant and District Attorney Warren Montgomery was the guest speaker.

Montgomery said that a strong and fair justice system is necessary for economic development. He noted that his office has tried to provide that justice, in the little more than a year that he has been on the job.

“I don’t want my employees to be average, I want them to be great,” he said.

Montgomery said his focus is on high ethics, high competency and high professionalism.

He also expressed his concern that too many incarcerated inmates are being punished for drug crimes, and there may be better options to rehabilitate them.

“You have to want to be cured of an addiction,” he said. “It’s a fallacy to think that you can throw a drug addict in jail and he’ll lose that addiction.”

Montgomery said that his office has begun several programs for drug convicts, including a “re-entry court.” Convicts in the re-entry court program have only a 5-percent recidivism rate, which means only 1 out of 20 commits another major crime within five years of release.

The average recidivism rate is 50 percent, Montgomery said.

“Most crime that we face intersects in some way with the abuse of drugs,” he said.

Ryan Seal, executive director of the WEDF, spoke about some of the challenges the local economy faced in 2015. He noted that the governor’s election, budget crisis and falling price of oil all led to a difficult economic climate.

However, he also spoke about some of the positives, including expansion at the Grand Isle Shipyard in Franklinton. Seal also noted that the parish had $224 million of assessed property tax value in 2013, and that was up to $240 million in 2015.

“We’re trending in the right direction,” he said.

Also Monday, the Franklinton Chamber of Commerce presented a gift to Brad Orman for his generosity in donating an office and utilities to the chamber for nine years. At the end of the meeting, Judge William J. Burris installed officers for the three economic organizations.