Meet the Commissioner: Spearheading Economic Development

New appointee to the Port Board of Commissioners, Judy Songy, uses her experiences to sustain and develop the community.

Economic development is Judy Songy’s wheelhouse. A River Parish native, Songy is a recent appointee to the Port of South Louisiana’s Board of Commissioners. She has spent her life active in her community nailing down exactly what economic development means for her and how it is applied.

After attending Southeastern Louisiana University and working a brief teaching stint, Songy pioneered into the world of real estate where her passion came to life. She was quick to make a name for herself in this new world. She served on the Louisiana State Real Estate Commission for 12 years; spent 20 years on the Economic Development Committee for St. John Parish; sat on the River Parish Tourist Commission; and owned her own Century 21 franchise in LaPlace.

“When I retired as CEO of my company in 2009,” Songy said, “I didn’t want to work. I wanted to do something that was more rewarding than work — something I’d truly enjoy doing. And since my expertise and first love was in economic development it just seemed like a perfect match to sit on the Port Board. So I expressed an interest to the governor.”

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Her expressed interest was well received and on Aug. 10, 2016 Songy was appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to represent St. John Parish on the nine person Port of South Louisiana Board of Commissioners.

“It’s the best kept secret around,” Songy said about the Port Board. “There’s so much action going on at the airport and around the river; so much possibility to bring new people and jobs to the area. I’m truly honored to be sitting on it and to be the only woman on the board.”

Sitting on the board for Songy is like a higher form of real estate brokering. She sees it as an opportunity to grow the local economy by attracting new industry. The board manages the Port of South Louisiana’s operations, and because the Port is the premier sea gateway handling the export and import traffic traveling through the Mississippi River, the extent of the operations provides a seemingly endless amount of opportunities for economic growth for the River Parish region.

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“There are always properties available, even to people from all around the world,” said Songy. “Any time we can get someone interested in coming to our area and producing jobs, that’s a big deal.  I’ve always been a community activist, trying to make my community the best it can be, and at the center of everything are jobs and the economy. This port is the largest tonnage port in the western hemisphere, so I’m very excited to be able to see what we can do in terms of continued development.”

It’s true that Songy is a community activist, and proud of it. When asked about her hobbies outside of work life, she went down a list of organizations and rallies that she often supports. “If there is a Relay for Life, I’m out there helping,” Songy said proudly. “If the school is needing to build something and they need someone to organize a fundraiser, I’m out there. If something is being voted on, I’m out there waving my arms trying to talk to people about it. Improving my community is always a big deal to me.”

Songy has spent her life dedicated to serving her community’s best interests, supporting local events and expressing her professional expertise on how to best help the local economy. Now, on the Board of Commissioners for the Port of South Louisiana, she is proud to step up onto a more macro-level stage in serving St. John and the rest of the River Parishes in promoting operations that will bring more jobs and funding down the river.

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“It’s a great group of people that I’ll be working with,” said Songy. “We’re all very much in tune with what’s going on and I know we’ll be doing great things.”

-Kevin O’Sullivan

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