Residents not taking kindly to WalletHub ranking

New Iberia has gotten its share of controversy online recently thanks to a survey study released by the website WalletHub declaring the small town one of the worst in the country.

The company, which is based in Washington D.C., brands itself mainly as a service company that offers free credit scores and full credit reports updated on a daily basis. However, the company also regularly releases surveys conducted in-house to gauge current economic issues.

The survey itself offered a list of “2021’s Best Small Towns in America,” and rated 1,300 U.S. cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 people.

That means that New Iberia was the only Acadiana city on the list. A few other Louisiana cities like Lake Charles, Kenner, Monroe, Alexandria, Houma, Marrero, Central and Slidell were also included on the list.

The takeaway of the survey was that New Iberia was rated in the bottom 10th of the list with a cumulative rating of 40.35 out of 100. Alexandria was listed in the bottom eight with a score of 39.16 and Monroe was third to last with a rating of 36.18.

The circulation of the story in local media has elicited angry responses from many New Iberia residents, who say that the report is misleading and spins the city’s image in a negative light.

Iberia Industrial Development Director Mike Tarantino said he couldn’t disagree more with the rating of the city in the survey.

“It’s one of the best cities around,” Tarantino said. “It’s a beautiful city with generations of people who have invested in the community, that’s how I see New Iberia.”

“Of course we have our issues, we’ve got our issues we’re working through like every community, but what I think happens is that these obscure social media sites looking to generate clicks by focusing on those issues.”

Tarantino also disagreed with the painting of New Iberia by many as more economically depressed than any other community in south Louisiana, saying that retail numbers and sales taxes numbers continue to improve.

“You also have to think, we went through a heck of a thing with COVID last year,” Tarantino added. “I wish these sites would try to be a little more balanced.”

New Iberia Mayor Freddie DeCourt submitted a guest editorial on the study, which can be found on page B5 in today’s edition. The mayor highlights each of the categories used to account for the scoring system of the study and gives his opinion on the city’s current livability, which he said is more positive than the study gave New Iberia credit for.

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