DENHAM SPRINGS – Their target audiences might be different, but the head of the Livingston Economic Development Council (LEDC) says several business-related groups have the same goal.
Increasing and improving business conditions in Livingston Parish.
LEDC CEO/President David Bennett was one of five speakers at the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the Parish Meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 8.
While he did not go into specifics, Bennett said, “We will have some great project news … by the end of year, with some well-known companies in the industrial sector.”
Bennett also said parish Tourism Director Eric Edwards and Chamber CEO/President April Wehrs have target audiences, but the three are not rivals.
“This is really a unique get together where you can hear from Eric and the Chamber,” Bennett told the audience of 150. “Our organizations are all complimentary business organizations. We all strive to improve business activity in Livingston Parish,” he said.
“We should appreciate the network of people we have,” working on improving the business climate here, he said.
“People don’t understand how many groups are fighting for the vitality of Livingston Parish,” Bennett said. “You will see us at the same functions; that’s what makes it so great.”
While the Convention & Visitors Bureau focuses on tourists and the Chamber targets retail business, “The LEDC is working with industrial clients and industrial businesses,” Bennett said.
“These businesses look to locate in Livingston or they are existing industrial businesses who have outgrown their site and looking to expand.
“We want to make that easier to do,” he said.
The LEDC focuses on large employers so Livingston Parish residents could have job opportunities here and not have to leave the parish to find work, he said.
The key words to attracting industrial businesses – used by Bennett – is site development.
A company might look at Livingston Parish acreage, but, “Is it suitable for industrial development?” he said.
That’s why a state program that certifies site for development is crucial, he said.
“We all put up money and support these sites being prepared. It’s an intense process to qualify a site,” Bennett said, but it helps when business comes calling.
“Sometimes we don’t have a lot of time to respond to an RFP (request for proposal),” he said.
The LEDC recently had a second site in the parish certified at the Walker Industrial Park, he said. Work is underway to have a third site, 127 acres close to Interstate 12, certified, possibly by the end of the year, he said.
Another key word for Bennett is infrastructure.
“If you don’t have sewer, electricity, natural gas, water (connections), a piece of land is not ready to be developed,” he said.
Cleaning canals and waterways also is a good infrastructure move, he said.
“That helps businesses. It raises the confidence level in Livingston Parish,” Bennett said.