Moving Forward Archive
2015 brought jobs, dollars, recognition to parish
In 2015, St. Landry Parish announced a campaign called “We’re Moving Forward,” to shine a light on good things happening here. Looking back over a busy year, parish economic development leaders can justly say that “we’re moving forward” is not just a slogan, it’s a fact.
During the year, a major expansion at the Allons Refinery in Krotz Springs kept hundreds of construction workers busy doing work that will make the facility even more important in parish economic life. The announcement in September of plans to build a $400 million Hazelwood energy facility nearby will bring more construction work to the parish and, more important, some 120 high paying permanent jobs.
“St. Landry Economic Development averaged 17 business/industrial recruitment projects in active consideration at any given time in 2015,” according to Bill Rodier, the chief development officer for the parish. That’s a record, and it indicates that more prospects are taking an interest in what the parish has to offer.
When 9 projects either announced in 2015, or scheduled to announce in the 1st quarter of 2016 come to full operation, they are expected to create 444 direct full time jobs and another 390 indirect jobs in the area, as well as 2,685 temporary construction jobs. These projects
are projected to bring a capital investment of more than $440 million to St. Landry Parish, as well as millions in new payrolls.
Best yet, this year may continue a fast pace. Rodier anticipates 2016 could bring as many as 10 new announcements for St. Landry.
“We will continue to work to bring new opportunities to St. Landry,” Rodier said, “but that will not be at the expense of businesses that are already here.”
He said SLED “worked hard in 2015 on building relationships with key employers in the parish.” That included visits with 25 top employers to explore ways to expand existing operations. Leaders from the state economic development agency participated in many of the meetings “to ensure parish businesses have productive relationships at the highest levels,” Rodier said.
Another significant accomplishment in 2015 was creation of the Harry Guilbeau Area and Grand Coteau economic development districts, that “represent landmark accomplishments,” in Rodier’s estimation. Each of the districts “will create a mechanism for real monies to be dedicated to infrastructure improvements in these areas and to enhance their business environments,” he said.
“We will continue to work to bring new opportunities to St. Landry.”
Bill Rodier, SLED Executive Director
The Harry Guilbeau District will dedicate funds to creation of a multi-use arena with the potential to bring more than 100,000 visitors to the parish each year, generating “tens of millions in additional taxes for the parish annually,” he said. Best of all, neither district creates any new tax burden on St. Landry businesses or residents.
SLED also did “important work” 2015 in helping St Landry Parish communities discover strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Four communities have committed to a formal process to plan their futures and at least two more are seriously considering such plans.
And there were other milestones in 2015:
- SLED’s Business Resource Center, also known as the Cajun Acceleration Station, saw substantial physical improvement, capped by a large electronic sign, paid for with a federal grant. The sign makes it one of the most recognized buildings in Opelousas and will be used to promote businesses within the center and important events and announcements.
- The resource center was made free and clear of a burdensome federal loan used to purchase it. This increased SLED’s capital assets by more than $1.1 million.
- SLED was able to profitably sell land that had limited development potential, bringing
in more than $1.6 million for use to promote more likely projects in the parish.
- Work began on a web-based geographic information data (GIS) system that will be expanded in 2016 as a tool to view parish assets and potential industrial sites.
- Also in 2015 SLED provided guidance and support for the Crowne Parc Economic Joint Commission, the leadership board of Vision St. Landry, and the St. Landry Professionals organization, to “dramatically reinforced our emphasis on promoting existing leaders into active roles, and developing blossoming leaders for the future,” Rodier said.
These and other accomplishments led to recognition of St. Landry Economic Development in 2015 as one of the best performing organizations of its type in the state. It scored 45 of a possible 48 points on a rigorous assessment of its management and development practices—a huge improvement over past evaluations.
“We’re proud of that ranking,” Rodier said, “not for our own sake, but because it reflects a new attitude in St. Landry Parish, where leaders in many fields are coming together, envisioning new possibilities, believing in a bright future, and collaborating to keep St. Landry moving forward.”
Opelousas, LA 5367I