Florida Parishes Economic Development group restructures with focus on I-12 corridor
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – The Florida Parishes Economic Development Association (FPEDA) announced today that it is restructuring its board and adopting an aggressive new mission and role designed to focus its efforts more intensely on the parishes that make up the I-12 corridor.
“This region – especially the parishes of St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Livingston, St. Helena and Washington – is a hotbed of economic activity right now,” said William Joubert, president of the organization and director of the Southeast Louisiana Business Center in Hammond, an economic development arm of Southeastern Louisiana University. “In our post-Katrina economy, everyone recognizes that the I-12 corridor will be a major factor in the state’s economy. We need to be prepared to capitalize on that reality.”
The FPEDA board is being restructured to include, among others, representatives of Southeastern Louisiana University and area economic development organizations. The intent, Joubert said, is to have a streamlined board that can act more aggressively and quickly in pursuing economic development and job creation opportunities.
“The I-12 corridor is ideally situated for economic development, and it’s time we initiate a major marketing campaign to make business and industry aware of our strong investment potential,” said Brenda Reine, executive director of the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation and a key mover in the FPEDA makeover. “The corridor has the land, workforce, and infrastructure to accommodate strong and rapid business development.”
The St. Tammany organization was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from Louisiana Economic Development to assess the strengths of the region and develop an aggressive marketing plan. The funds will be matched by cash and in-kind services from area organizations and businesses.
Joubert said the association FPEDA plans to seek other grants to properly plan for and implement infrastructure improvements in the region. The organization is also applying to Louisiana Economic Development for a second round of grant funding designed to take the marketing effort to an even higher level.
Joubert said the board wants to establish a brand identity for the region, something along the lines of how Silcon Valley is perceived as the hub for computer technology jobs.
“With a specific brand, we will market the region to the world to help drive high wage, environmentally-friendly jobs to the region,” Joubert said. “Our focus on high wage industries is intended to elevate the quality of life and the tax base of the region.”
Southeastern President Randy Moffett said that the university has pledged strong support of the association’s efforts.
“As the primary higher education institution on the north shore, Southeastern’s administration has offered its Southeast Louisiana Business Center, research capabilities, faculty and staff expertise, as well as other resources to help facilitate the economic development of the region,” he said.
Joubert emphasized that, “It’s important to note that regional economic development is not necessarily about which parish gets a project located in their community; it is about the region getting the project. A regional vision is what is most essential here.”
FPEDA operates in partnership with Southeastern and is housed in the Southeast Louisiana Business Center located near the campus at 1514 Martens Drive.