Central St. Landry Economic Development District
The Story Behind the Central St. Landry Economic Development District
On September 25, 2014, St. Landry Parish made an unprecedented step forward in unanimously approving the creation of the Harry Guilbeau Economic Development District. This proposal received unanimous support from leaders across St. Landry Parish and Acadiana. It was passed on a 13 - 0 vote on three separate occasions by the St. Landry Parish Council then by the Opelousas City Council. The formal process of creation for the Harry Guilbeau District and its taxing authority was completed on November 20, 2014.
This Harry Guilbeau economic development district (EDD) officially encompasses 729 acres of property surrounding all four quadrants of the Harry Guilbeau Road, I-49 Intersection. Specific properties within this area allow for a collection of up to two (2) cents in sales tax and up to two (2) cents in hotel/luxury tax on goods and services. Currently, these collections are very small since the district has largely been raw land until recently.
These taxes in the district do not affect the existing sales tax dedications in any way. The two (2) cents are collected by the tax collection office within the SLP School Board and set into a separate economic development trust fund. These funds are dedicated for use by a dedicated governing board of the district. This board is responsible for reinvestment back into infrastructure improvements within the boundaries of the EDD. Their goal is to put in a framework of infrastructure that will accelerate sensible business growth in their area.
The existing Harry Guilbeau District’s Governing board is called The Economic Joint Commission. This board consist of seven (7) people who are vetted for qualifications by a group called Vision St Landry. They are formally appointed to their board positions by the Parish President, the Parish Council, and the Mayor of Opelousas.
Because of the need to support development all along I-49 in Opelousas, the Economic Joint Commission has initiated an effort to expand the area of the district and renamed it to the “Central St Landry Economic Development District.” This is based off best practices in districts across Acadiana and the State.
This effort will expand the current district along the east and west I-49 Frontage Road along with all Opelousas Exits. It will also lower the tax rate on both sales and hotel taxes from its current two cents tax to a one cent tax. Largely, the only businesses that are influenced by the district taxing structure are those that operate under a corporate structure, a locally or corporate owned franchise, or businesses located in multiple locations. The typical locally owned businesses are largely not included, with a few unavoidable exceptions.
The intent of this expanded district is to promote the growth of business along the I-49 Corridor in Opelousas. This will require leveraging monies as much as possible, but with a focus of funds usage dedicated to improving the business climate for current and future business along the corridor. Priorities of funds usage will include sewer/water upgrades, interstate lighting improvements, necessary road/pedestrian improvements; enhanced maintenance along I-49, possibly creating a complimentary entertainment venue, a large RV Park, or similar venues that bring people to the area.