If "location, location, location" is the key to every good business plan, then having a plan to find the right site is crucial to generate economic development prospects, says Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess.
Burgess and the parish's economic development leaders are building a database identifying potentially the "best industrial and commercial sites in Tanigpahoa Parish," and the process, referred to as "site suitability," has classified at least 31 such locations, primarily along the I-55/I-12 corridor.
"This is a long-range goal to identify key tracts of land and provide property owners with the resources they need to attract potential industry," Burgess said.
The Tangipahoa Parish Economic Development Foundation (TEDF) contracted with LEO, LLC, a firm that specializes in site identification. Using engineering and GIS data, LEO developed a series of potential land tracts based on a series of "suitability" characteristics, emphasizing access to infrastructure, water, sewer, gas, electricity, fiber, and of course, modes of transportation.
The sites range from 25 to 250 acres each, TEDF Director Stacey Neal said, noting that the 31 prime locations were further vetted to avoid potential zoning questions, like placing an industrial site next door to a school.
Neal said TEDF then contacted Entergy's Research and Engineering Services department, who helped develop site-specific maps of the 31 locations, outlining their specific attractions, from elevation grades to utility infrastructure, wetlands and environmental determinations, as well as any other considerations. Entergy is the process of creating site-by-site videos of the parcels, and those tools will all be available for use by economic development officials to help showcase the available sites in the area.
"These are tools, additional resources, our office can provide free of charge to the landowner," Neal said, noting that while her office is not a real estate sales office, TEDF does act as a liaison to introduce business developers with property holders.
Thusfar, six "top sites" have been identified. Those locations, including the Fluker "Megasite", two tracts in Hammond, and one apiece in Kentwood, Amite, and Ponchatoula, are all well on their way to becoming Louisiana "certified" industrial sites. That distinction will make the land easier to market and easier to match with potential buyers.
"There are currently six certified sites in St. Tammany; we have three here in Tangipahoa," Burgess said, adding that the site suitability database work will enable our parish to better market itself for incoming industry.
"Tangipahoa is taking proactive steps to aggressively market itself as business-ready, industry-ready," Neal said.
The parish continues to partner with other groups, like the Small Business Development Center at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. SBDC can research additional demographics that appeal to industry heads.
"They can provide data on work force, market research..you name it. That's the data we need to drive our sales pitch and land these companies," Burgess said.