ABBEVILLE, La. (AP) — A parish-wide effort to boost the economy of Vermilion Parish is about to get underway with a search for the coastal parish's first economic development director.

Over the past year, the parish's cities and other governmental entities committed funding over a three-year period to start an economic development office and hire a director.

So far, Paul Bourgeois, a Vermilion Parish police juror who led the push to create an office of economic development, tells The Advocate more than $200,000 has been committed to the effort.

Bourgeois says a focused effort not only to grow industry, but also to retain businesses is needed to help grow and stabilize the parish's economy.