Jeff Davis hoping to join program designed to attract business

Published 12:12 pm Wednesday, September 22, 2021

JENNINGS — Jeff Davis Parish has begun efforts to become a Louisiana Development Ready Communities.

Administered by the Louisiana Economic Development (LED), the program helps participants prepare and become more competitive in attracting new businesses and jobs to an area and expanding economic development and investments.

“What this program does is it helps us differentiate ourselves from our competitors,” Parish Economic Development Tourism Commission and Chamber of Commerce Director Creed Romano said. “As you are aware with everything we are going through with COVID and the economy in general, it is a very competitive world and the economic development game is getting more competitive, so the more certifications and qualifications we have as a parish, will help us attract industry to this area.”

Romano met with the Jeff Davis Parish Police Jury on Wednesday to discuss the program and seek support from the Police Jury to make an application to the state.

“I think it is a good idea because we have the state helping us try to get more businesses into Jeff Davis Parish,” Police Jury President Steve Eastman said.

The Police Jury will adopt a resolution of support at 5 p.m. on Sept. 22.

Letters of support have already been received from State Rep. Troy Romero, Mike Heinen, general manager of Jeff Davis Electric Co-op and One Acadiana President Troy Wayman. Support has also been received from local mayors.

“This is a parishwide effort and we believe in it so strongly because we see the value in it,” Romano said. “It stands to benefit us all.”

“The program was originally designed to certify communities, like Jennings, as a development ready community, in our case LED has made an exception to certify Jeff Davis Parish which is a huge advantage for our rural community,” Romano said.

West Feliciana Parish is currently the only other certified parish in the state.

If selected, consultants will help the parish in addressing strategies for education, workforce development, infrastructure, leadership, marketing and communications.

The team will also help develop a “Roadmap to Readiness” for the parish and develop a five-year community and economic development strategic plan with a 10-year vision.

“We want this to be an overall inclusive and diversified process to better our parish and help us stand out,” Romano said.

The program is administered by the LED at no cost to the parish. The only cost incurred will be $1,000 for a celebration once the certification process is complete. Several businesses have already agreed to pay the cost, Romano said.

The parish is one step ahead in its application, in that it is already an LED certified site at Lacassine. Two additional certified sites are proposed for Jennings and Lake Arthur.

The parish is also finalizing work on a Geographic Information System (GIS) website and is creating  a website for the Police Jury.

“It’s within our grasp to have our GIS website up, to have a Police Jury website and having our parish certified as development ready.” Romano said. “Those 3 things alone will give us a fantastic start to the calendar year 2022 and allow us to attract more industry and good paying jobs to better the lives of our citizens.”