The Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce has assumed the lead role in economic development efforts throughout Natchitoches Parish through a strategic alignment with the Natchitoches Economic Development Alliance (NEDA). Chamber President Laura Lyles will serve as the main point of contact and will report to the newly restructured NEDA Board of Directors.
Economic Development has long been recognized as being most successful when a local united voice exists. This effort brings all partners together to provide workforce development opportunities for those entering the job market or for others looking for a new career path, to increase opportunities for Natchitoches to attract new investment and support expanding new businesses, and to market the many benefits the parish has to offer companies when looking for places to invest.
The Chamber has a track record for supporting local businesses and promoting the many benefits of doing business in the parish.
Under the reorganization, the NEDA Board of Directors were elected from representatives of private business and industry partners across a diverse range of industry sectors. The 2022 NEDA Board of Directors are Chairman Tom Matuschka (Natchitoches Regional Medical Center), Past Chairman Ryan Todtenbier (Thomas, Cunningham, Broadway and Todtenbier CPAs), Treasurer Josh Manuel (City Bank & Trust), Katrice Below (BOM), Jeremy Burford (RoyOMartin), Henry T. Moffett (Moffett Foods), Laurie Morrow (Northwestern State University), Travis Tyler (Natchitoches Parish Port), and current Chamber Chairman Van Erikson (Northwestern State University).
Operating under a management agreement with NEDA, the Chamber will lead the organization, facilitating the execution of an Economic Development Strategic Plan for the Parish. Utilizing existing funding, NEDA has engaged a team, led by DADCO, to develop the Economic Development Strategic Plan, which will provide a program of work to address needs throughout the parish and create opportunities to attract new investment and jobs. The plan is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of this year.
Together with Lyles, the NEDA Board has laid out an interim plan of work focusing on:
• the retention and expansion of existing business and industry;
• increasing the inventory of certified sites throughout the parish under the program sponsored by Louisiana Economic Development;
• professional development and certifications for community leaders on the economic development team; and
• marketing and branding of both the NEDA organization, high-wage jobs, and career paths already available in Natchitoches Parish.
According to NEDA Chairman and Chamber board member Tom Matuschka, this formal partnership has formed at the perfect time. “The Chamber of Commerce is also currently engaged in comprehensive strategic planning,” Matuschka stated. “The feedback from Chamber membership and community leaders have common themes: needed economic growth, workforce development, and the attraction and retention of professionals to the area. This partnership will ensure that NEDA’s goals, Chamber goals and community goals are well aligned, sufficiently supported, and effectively executed. The synergy between the two organizations will help capitalize on recent economic growth in our region and create momentum.”
“Economic Development is a team sport,” Lyles stated. “It takes the entire community coming together, from our education partners advancing education in the parish to our citizens keeping trash in the landfill and supporting local businesses through their pocketbooks and their comments on social media. It will take all of us reading from the same sheet of music to move the needle.”
The Natchitoches Area Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to making the Natchitoches area a thriving business community by promoting commerce, strengthening people, and improving life. Learn more about the Chamber at NatchitochesChamber.com.
The Natchitoches Economic Development Alliance is the economic development organization for Natchitoches Parish. NEDA provides proactive leadership and coordinated support for consistent economic development efforts in Natchitoches parish, a certified Louisiana Development Ready Community and a certified Work Ready Community.