The Natchitoches Parish Council tabled an agenda item at its March 20 meeting that would establish four economic development districts in different areas throughout the Parish. The item was tabled so the wording in the ordinance itself could be straightened out and so the Council members could have more time to study maps for the districts. The ordinances for the four districts will come back before the Council at its April 17 meeting.
There’s been a tremendous amount of economic growth in the southeastern United States and companies are looking for areas with less density, lower cost of living, and enhanced quality of life offerings. Communities are competing for jobs and economic growth, so Parishes like Natchitoches have to distinguish themselves from other communities. It’s not only about what the parish has to offer, but how it’s presented to potential companies. Time is money, so it’s important to make is as easy as possible for these companies to notice the significant benefits and advantages Natchitoches Parish has to offer.
The Parish purposefully went in and excluded residences from the Economic Development Districts. These four districts are focused on unoccupied land.
CLICK HERE to see the proposed map
What are Economic Development Districts?
They’re a targeted approach to spurring development in a particular area. Parishes that have property adjacent to an interstate could target retail development. If there’s land adjacent to water, recreational and residential economic development would be the target. For large plots of land, advanced industries like RoyOMartin would be the target.
The overall goal is to attract new businesses and jobs with custom and targeted incentives. It’s also important to allow for increased investment in infrastructure to support these additional businesses and jobs. This also adds a spotlight on the community.
How does an Economic Development District work?
Once the district is created and the Parish Council votes to approve its creation, the Parish will enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Natchitoches Economic Development Alliance (NEDA). From that point, they can institute an economic development levy in the districts. NEDA, along with the Parish, can market the new economic development district to potential businesses. The existence of these economic development districts are a big selling point to companies.
One of two approaches can be utilized to attract new businesses and jobs:
Approach A – Provide direct incentive to an identified company
Once an interested company is identified, NEDA can work with the company and the Parish to determine if a customized incentive package is necessary and justified in order to attract the company.
Approach B – Utilize funds generated in the districts to enhance infrastructure vital to attracting new businesses and serving existing businesses
NEDA will work with the Parish to identify infrastructure improvements in the districts necessary to better market the Parish to new businesses and better allow existing businesses to grow. This would be based on feedback from the business companies throughout the country.
The money used for incentives and infrastructure is generated as a result of the economic growth and/or improvement of the districts. If there is growth, there will be funding available. If there is no growth, it doesn’t cost the Parish a penny. This also helps to increase confidence in government through transparency.
The Parish can also resurrect the Industrial Development Board of the Parish of Natchitoches, which would help to spur development by providing economic development financing to businesses. It would also provide a layer of local control and oversight for economic development projects.
Louisiana’s constitution and related statues exempt Industrial Development Boards from ad valorem property taxes and sale and use taxes, in most instances. The property must be owned by the Industrial Development Board so there would need to a transfer of ownership for a set period (tax exemption attaches), then a Capital “PILOT” lease of the property back to the private entity. Finally, upon termination of the lease, ownership of the property reverts back to private entity. Lease allows private entities to forgo future tax abatements and reclaim ownership of the property at any time. Private entities retain critical benefits of ownership.
Three primary tools would be used to provide financing:
Ad valorem property tax abatement for economic development projects using a payment in lieu of tax agreement
Sales and Use tax abatement for construction and equipment costs using a payment in lieu of tax agreement
In exchange for a tax abatement, the private entities will pay an agreed upon payment in lieu of the tax (PILOT). THe level of the tax abatement and corresponding PILOT payments can be structured in a variety of ways to best ensure the desired economic benefit for the community. The flexibility allowed under the PILOT structure invites a true economic development analysis by the local community. The result is an incentive package that is only as generous as necessary to attract the project.
Other agenda items included:
Approve the reappointment of Mrs. Peggy Braxton to the Natchitoches Parish Housing Authority Board.
Approve the appointment of Mr. Cory Cason to the Northwest Louisiana Game and Fish Preserve Board.
Approve the re-appointment of Mrs. Gloria Waldrup Davis to the Natchitoches Parish Library Board.
Introduce Ordinance 005-2023 to repeal Ordinance 28-2017 a professional services agreement with Archon Information Systems, L.L.C., D/B/A Civic Source for the administration of an online auction and sale of adjudicated properties program.
Introduce Ordinance 006-2023 to amend the Personnel Manual to add Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and Juneteenth to the Natchitoches Parish Government observed holidays to be uniformed with the other entities in the Courthouse on State Holiday Closures.
Introduce Ordinance 009-2023 to amend the Personnel Manual to amend wording to the Employees Pay Scale if there’s an increase in the minimum wages.
Introduce Ordinance 007-2023 of the Parish Council creating an Economic Development District within the Parish of Natchitoches to be named the “Economic Development District I, Parish of Natchitoches” (THE “DISTRICT”); defining the Boundaries thereof from which certain area local and potentially State sales defining the boundaries thereof from which certain area local and potentially state sales and use tax increments will be determined and used to Finance Economic Development projects within the District, all as authorized by Part II of Chapter 27 of title 33 of the Louisiana revised statutes of 1950, as amended (The Act) and providing for other matters in connection with the foregoing.
Introduce Ordinance 008-2023 An Ordinance to provide for sale for adjudicated properties; and further providing with respect thereto.
Approve a Resolution to continue to qualify for FEMA fundings by adopting the Natchitoches Parish Hazard Mitigation Plan Update.
Other Agenda Items:
Approve to authorize the Parish President to sign the CEA with E&P Consulting to be effective upon the repeal of Ordinance 28-2017.
Approve the Board of Commerce and Industry Approval Notice (“Notice”) Tax Exemption Application #20210507-ITE – $39,810, 384 investment for Alliance Compressors.
Approve the Alliance Compressors Board of Commerce and Industry Approval Notice (“Notice”) Tax Exemption Application #20180503-ITE – $2,281,841 investment for Alliance Compressors.
Approve the Natchitoches Times as the parish official journal.
Approve Natchitoches Parish Government to enter in agreement for a Bin Site with Dan Roque at 280 Highway 491 in Cloutierville.
Approve the distribution of an RFQ for the selection of a firm to complete load ratings and repair plans for Parish bridges over a period of 3 years. The purpose of this RFQ is to ensure that a contractual agreement is in place to expedite bridge repair plans and specifications as needed, and minimize the time associated with these repair projects.