New St. Landry Development District Spurs Prompt Action

Brandy Ledet Development

St. Landry business and government leaders are wasting no time taking advantage of opportunities offered by creation of an enlarged development district in the heart of the parish.

The newly expanded Central St. Landry Economic Development District extends the boundaries of the Harry Guilbeau district that was created in the fall of 2014 to include prime commercial sites along the I-49 corridor.

That corridor, in the view of St. Landry economic developer Bill Rodier and others, is the “transportation backbone of St Landry Parish.” Rodier said plans have begun to make important infrastructure upgrades to enhance properties near the highway, and also to make the highly traveled roadway more attractive.

Planning has begun for projects “focused around supporting the building that is already happening on both sides of I-49 on the south end of the district and developing the master plan for the north side,” he said.  Developers and engineers are “looking at many infrastructure needs,” including water and wastewater capacity, service and connecting roads, drainage and communications upgrades, he said.

The parish council voted in September to allow a one-cent sales tax within district boundaries for infrastructure improvements and general economic development. The tax will be collected solely by businesses within the district and will be solely spent there. It does not include a tax on hotel-motel occupancy. The necessary legal steps are in progress and the tax should be in place during the first quarter of next year. Once collections begin, the district will be able to sell bonds and begin work quickly.

“The funding this new district will generate will make us even more attractive to businesses interested in locating along Louisiana’s major north-south highway, and will help bring new customers and clients to those who are already here.” Bill Rodier, SLED Executive Director
The district is governed by a seven-member board called The Economic Joint Commission, Members are appointed by the parish president, the parish council, and the mayor of Opelousas. The chairman is Frank “Buddy” Helton. Other members are Tina Vidrine, Dirk Boudreaux, Eric Elliott, Yvonne Norman, Ammy Taylor, and Senic Batiste.

Besides upgrading the infrastructure, the district may take over the maintenance of the part of the I-49 corridor that is within its boundaries. This would include all the maintenance of grounds and trash pickup along the interstate, as well as making sure lights along the roadway are working and are up to date.

“There are also efforts in play to look at major upgrades to the road structure in the district with things such as roundabouts and turn lanes on the frontage roads in certain areas,” Rodier said. “There are many other moving pieces for sure, but the good thing is that the district will give us the opportunity to stay caught up with development that is already projected along I-49.”

More than twenty new business prospects are actively looking at sites in St. Landry, many of them on or near I-49.

“The funding this new district will generate will make us even more attractive to businesses interested in locating along Louisiana’s major north-south highway, and will help bring new customers and clients to those who are already here,” Rodier said.

“That translates into jobs for local workers, new money in the local economy, and into the ability to be sure that all of this is done using ‘smart growth’ principles.” he said.


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As a Quasi-governmental entity to promote economic development, the St. Landry Parish Economic Development’s (SLED) primary mission is to provide leadership in economic and community development that facilitates growth opportunities leading to enhanced prosperity for St. Landry Parish businesses, communities, its clients and youth.