Parish to join tax incentive program

By By John Guidroz / American Press

Calcasieu Parish police jurors last week approved a resolution that allows the parish to participate in a program that provides

tax incentives for non-manufacturing companies looking to locate or expand within the area.

The panel approved participating in the Louisiana Competitive Projects Tax Exemption Program. It allows parishes to permit

a local 10-year property tax exemption for non-manufacturing companies locating within the parish.

George Swift, president and CEO of the

Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, said Thursday that

the project must

have a $25 million price tag and create at least 50 permanent jobs

in certain categories. Those include corporate headquarters,

distribution centers, digital technology companies and others.

“This is a very specialized incentive,” Swift said. “These are (companies) Louisiana has not been able to attract. This will

give us another tool to use with those prospects, especially to diversify Southwest Louisiana’s economy.”

Voters statewide approved the program in a Constitutional Amendment in November 2012. The American Press reported that 55 percent of Calcasieu Parish voters approved the amendment.

For the program to be utilized in Calcasieu Parish, Swift said each taxing entity had to approve participating in the program.

Those entities included cities, the Sheriff’s Office, the School Board, the tax assessor and the Police Jury.

Swift said the state Board of Commerce and Industry must approve any proposal made by a company looking to benefit from the

tax exemption program.

“It’s not just a blank check,” he said. “It’s a new incentive that can be used to make the state more competitive.”

Swift said the program will make Calcasieu Parish more competitive as well and could attract companies like IBM, which broke

ground on its Services Center in downtown Baton Rouge in September.

“We’ve had incentives for manufacturing and petrochemical companies, but we have missed a lot of other projects statewide,”

he said.