Industrial megasite in Tangipahoa Parish receives official certification
Contact: Rene Abadie
MEGASITE CERTIFIED -- Bob Basford, right, executive director of the Tangipahoa Economic Development Foundation, explains the location of the Zachary Taylor Industrial Megasite following the announcement that the site has been officially certified. Observing are, from left, Steve Molnar of GNO, Inc.; Margaret Grissom of Peake Consulting, the firm that conducted the certification study; and Randy Moffett, president of Southeastern Louisiana University.
HAMMOND -- The Zachary Taylor Megasite, a 2,900-acre industrial parcel located mostly in Tangipahoa Parish, has been officially certified, a designation reserved for those sites that are considered ready for business, economic development officials announced Tuesday.
Announcement of the site certification by Peake Consulting Strategic Solutions of Kentucky was made at a press conference held at Southeastern Louisiana University’s Southeast Louisiana Business Center in Hammond.
Bob Basford, executive director of the Tangipahoa Economic Development Foundation (TEDF), said certification tells national and international business and industry that the site is “job ready” for any major industry or manufacturer that needs a large, unencumbered site, a strong transportation infrastructure and a solid labor supply.
He said the Zachary Taylor site is located near Fluker at the intersection of I-55 and Louisiana Highway 10, also known as the Zachary Taylor Parkway. The 4.5 square mile site is flat land that includes mostly undeveloped wooded property that has been used for pine tree harvesting and hunting and is considered ideal for automobile manufacturing or similar large industrial projects. The site also falls within the Congressionally-designated Gulf Opportunity (GO) Zone, the most aggressive set of business incentives in U.S. history.
“In the world of industrial development, location is important; but for a megasite to be at the top of a strategic list, it has to be one that can be developed quickly,” Basford said. “With this certification, we have already completed much of the due diligence that companies need in order to make an informed decision on a site. These studies can take six months to a year to complete, so it’s a real competitive advantage to have this ready to give to a company looking to invest in the area.”
Certification of megasites by independent consultants is a relatively new process initiated in 2002 by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Most large corporations use site selection consultants to help narrow the field, and certification is an important factor these consultants examine.
Margaret P. Grissom of Peake Consulting said the study included assessments of the site’s environment, wetlands, soils, labor and utility supplies, and proximity to a transportation infrastructure. Southeastern’s Business Research Center provided much of the labor information, profiles of the job market, area trends and projections, and other data. The study was funded by the TEDF, Louisiana Economic Development, Greater New Orleans, Inc., Entergy Economic Development and Pike County (Mississippi) Economic Development District.
Grissom provided an overview of the megasite certification process, which included field research, review of background materials and data, and a study of tax and other incentives commonly used for megasite projects.
“Southeast Louisiana and Tangipahoa Parish are experiencing an unprecedented period of growth in both business investment and population,” said Southeastern President Randy Moffett, who serves on the board of directors of the Hammond Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Parishes Economic Development Association. “All of our partners have worked hard in recent years to develop a very business-friendly environment.”
He said the university’s Business Center, which opened three years ago to serve as a one-stop shop for businesses looking to expand or relocate into the Florida Parishes region, has never been busier in providing consulting and supportive services.
“We’ve made a special push to develop friendly partnerships among the various economic development agencies and organizations in the area under the belief that projects benefit our region as a whole and not just one locale,” Moffett said.
“Our role is to help coordinate and facilitate economic development and provide some of the outside expertise in business and industrial development that companies need to be successful,” he added.
Moffett said Southeastern has faculty and staff expertise that can assist any number of businesses, and the university graduates abut 2,000 well-prepared potential employees every year. In addition, the area has technical colleges in Greensburg (St. Helena Parish), Hammond, and Bogalusa that can develop special workforce initiatives.
The study has been posted on the Business Center home page, www.selu.edu/admin/slbc.