"While LED works aggressively every day to attract new business investment to our state, our success at the local level is determined in large part by the competitiveness and preparedness of each community," said LED Secretary Stephen Moret. "Participation in the Louisiana Development Ready Communities Program is one way that local communities can position themselves for success in economic development."
The eight communities selected for this year's program include Bernice, Bogalusa, Bunkie, Central, Cullen/Springhill, Donaldsonville, Hammond and Ville Platte.
Each community that applied for the program was scored on the following criteria: completeness of application, a resolution by the governing body to support the program, a description of the community's previous and current community and economic development experience, letters of support from local and state leaders and overall commitment to the aggressive program schedule.
The communities were then reviewed through a competitive process led by the Louisiana Development Ready Communities selection committee, which includes representatives from utility companies, Louisiana Association of Planning Districts, Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research at the University of New Orleans, and LED.
During the second week of June, each community will be introduced to its resource team of experienced community and economic development professionals and begin the community assessment phase of the program. With support provided by LED and economic development professionals, the eight communities will complete the program's four-part process, as well as implement a strategic economic development plan.
In 2009 and 2010, LED launched phase I and phase II of the LDRC pilot program, selecting 19 communities around the state: Arcadia; Covington; Crowley; DeRidder; Eunice; Farmerville; Gretna; Houma; Jena; Mansfield with Grand Cane, Logansport and Stonewall; Natchitoches; New Iberia; New Roads; Pineville; Slidell; St. Martinville; Vivian; West Monroe; and Zachary.
A phase II pilot community, New Roads completed the program and is now implementing its strategic plan, which was recently adopted by the New Roads City Council. "LED's Development Ready Communities Program is a well-thought-out plan for helping rural communities create a business-friendly environment for attracting jobs and capital investment," said Scot Byrd, director of economic development at Greater Pointe Coupee Chamber of Commerce. "Most rural communities have limited staff devoted to economic development, and this community-based program adds quality, broad-based support and legitimacy to our efforts to grow the regional economy."
LED's program partners include Entergy, CLECO, Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives, AEP/Southwestern Electric Power Company, University of New Orleans, Louisiana Municipal Association, Police Jury Association of Louisiana and LSU/SU Extension Services.