The number of people working and perhaps more importantly the number of those working at high wages strengthens the local and regional economy. Higher wages bring more purchasing power to the consumer. Purchasing goods and services helps to generate more sales and profit…and places more money in circulation. An improved and expanding economy helps raise a community’s standard of living, making it more attractive for its residents and new businesses that choose to locate in that community. The Economic Development section of the IMCAL office is designed to help improve the local and 5-parish regional economy through enhancing community infrastructure and improving the business climate.
IMCAL has as one of its funding sources EDA, or the Economic Development Administration. Utilizing EDA funds helps to develop working programs that benefit the economy of the area. Locally, our office assists each member parish and community with economic development requests. This can be grant research, such as an EDA Public Works grant that provides 50-70 percent of a project cost. The EDA project share varies according to each parish’s per capita income and unemployment. EDA will fund a public works project when there is a firm commitment from an employer. EDA funds can be used to improve publicly owned industrial parks that will be used by a potential employer. Other requests from member governments may include research or grant writing with other state or federal programs.
Economic development activities at IMCAL are focused in three areas: assistance to member governments in state or federal programs, assistance to area businesses in business development, and providing data and maps to the public.
II. ASSISTANCE TO MEMBER GOVERNMENTS
Economic Development activity for member governments begins with a statement of District Goals and Objectives. In order to help identify economic development needs IMCAL uses the Executive Committee of the IMCAL Board of Directors to help identify regional or district economic development goals and objectives. This helps set a foundation with which to develop assistance in state or federal programs for parishes and communities in the region The following lists shows the District Goals and Objectives recently identified. These regional goals and objectives, as well as statistical data and maps about the region are found in the 2012 CEDS (Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy) Report.
A. Economic Development
Expand and diversify the district small business base.
Develop district industrial park facilities.
Encourage the development of new industries and the
expansion of existing industries.
B. Community Development
Continue to develop district infrastructure such as water,
sewer, recreation, schools, housing, and transportation to
accompany district needs.
Develop maximum district tourism activities.
Identify district airports and develop their expansion potential.
Continue to improve highways and arteries, including
A. Economic Development Identify available commercial land that could be used for expansion activities of existing small businesses. Establish a database for available public and private small business loans. Publicize the existence of the state Enterprise Zone program. Assist in establishing new industrial parks. Develop a district small business visitation program to determine expansion needs of area small businesses.
B. Community development. Conduct a district inventory of infrastructure needs. Provide grant assistance to district communities in developing and obtaining state or federal grants. Develop an inventory of existing district tourism attractions, and assist in developing tourism information.
C. Transportation Inventory the strengths and weaknesses of existing airports. Assist district airports and their boards in identifying available local/state/federal sources of funds to address their expansion needs. Identify major highway arteries and interstate sections that need improvements, and seek funding sources for these improvements.
**We have a new small business grant program that is currently being offered through the Small Business Association (SBA)
The Louisiana Department of Economic Development has a new export grant program, funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant. Through the STEP program, qualified businesses can get reimbursed up to $5,000 for expenses related to entering new markets.
Information can be found here:http://www.lsbdc.org/resources/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/STEP-Fact-Sheet1.pdf
Other Grant Programs
· Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-CDBG-New Orleans, improvements in low income neighborhoods.
· United States Department of Agriculture (RUS)-Lafayette-Loans and grants for rural facilities.
· Economic Development Administration- (EDA)-Austin-Public works for industrial parks.
· Louisiana Department of Transportation-enhancement grants-sidewalks and landscaping.
· Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries-boat ramps and wharfs.
· Louisiana office of State Parks-recreation grants-park land and equipment .
· Louisiana Rural Development-community facilities, water, sewer, streets, etc .
· Capital Outlay-construction projects.
III. BUSINESS INCENTIVES/BUSINESS PLANS
Note: Additional information on the Business Incentive programs can be found at the Louisiana Department of Economic Development web site, along with contact names and phone numbers. The Enterprise Zone program is an incentive programs designed to attract businesses to an area by offering tax credits. A one-time $2500 tax credit is available for each new employee a business hires. A business must increase its workforce size by 10% (minimum of 1) within the first 12 months or create a minimum of five net new jobs within the first 24 months of construction start date. Thirty-five percent (35%) of those newly hired used for generating tax credits must meet one of the following: (1) Residency- If a business is in an EZ the qualifying employee must live in the same parish as that of the applicant business; if the business is not in an EZ those employees used for tax credits must reside in an EZ of the same parish as the business. (2) Receiving some form of public assistance or employment assistance, (3) lacking basic educational skills as in a person being below 9th grade reading, writing or math skills, or (4) be physically challenged.
A sales tax rebate is also available on all materials purchased during construction, however taxes set aside to pay off bonded indebtedness is not eligible for rebates. An Advance Notification form is required to be filed with the state DED office before the start of construction. Enterprise Zone maps are available at the IMCAL office indicating the EZ area for each parish and town.
Industrial Property - tax exemption-provides up to 10 years local property tax reductions on manufactures new investment or annual capitalized additions. This exemption applies to all improvements to the land, buildings, machinery, and equipment as part of the manufacturing process. An Advance Notification is required if the inductile project is greater than $5 million.
Restoration Tax Abatement - is for towns and local governments to encourage restoration of existing commercial structures and owner occupied residences in downtown development districts, economic development district, or historic districts… it provides a 5-year deferred assessment of the property taxes normally assessed on renovations and improvements. An Advance Notice is required first before construction.
Quality Jobs - provides payroll rebates as well as sales tax rebates to encourage businesses to locate or expand existing operations in Louisiana, to create quality jobs, and to promote economic development by focusing on specific NAICS Coded industries, businesses with specific sales within one year, to out-of-state buyers or, to the following seed clusters industries:
· Biotechnology and Biomedical
· Micro manufacturing
· Software, Internet and telecommunications
· Environmental Technology
· Food Technology
· Advanced Materials
A well thought out business plan can help a business get started by offering steps in business organization. It can provide a plan with which to show prospective lenders, and it can act as a plan to follow as the business develops. A business plan should have at least the following information: Statement of objectives- describes the advantages your product has over other similar products and describes your own qualifications to run the business. Describe the product and how it works, is it a new technology or state of the art? Use illustrations and diagrams.
Provide an organization chart for all employees and provide resumes showing prior experience, explain if you are the sole owner, a partnership and at what percent, or corporation and officers. List all equipment needed to be purchased and space needed. Describe your selling or advertising technique. Tell how you are going to market the product. What part of the market share do you intend to capture? State the exact amount of capital you need and your share of the starting investment. Use data such as Census reports and traffic counts to help support your plan.
IV. SOURCES OF DATA AND MAPS
Census data current and past is available in the IMCAL library- IMCAL is a Census data Affiliate and has available data in hard copy, and CD, additional data can be researched on the Internet Census Bureau Web site. Census data is used for displaying counts and changes in population over time, and providing racial breakdown, housing characteristics, and economic statistics such as unemployment, and employment in major economic areas, income, and poverty. Census data is very helpful in describing population for an area to be used in a report, a grant application, or in a business plan. Students also request data for research projects…about 50% of our requests are from our member governments and 50% from business startups, realtors, and banks, and developers. Traffic counts are also available through IMCAL’s Transportation office. This is available by report from the LA DOTD, showing counts at specific locations and selected numbered intersections in each parish. IMCAL can also custom make traffic counts by using our own equipment and software, but at a fee.
GIS (geographic information systems), mapping software is also available at IMCAL using ATLAS or MAPTITUDE software. These maps can be made to indicate geographic boundaries of parishes, cities, river’s, lakes, streets, highways, and railroad lines. Layers can also be custom made to indicate specific kinds of data. A Census CD that calculates the population within a 1, 3, 5, 10 mile or more circle, after inserting the latitude and longitude of a site, can be used to indicate population and other Census data in a given area. This is very useful for determining the market size of an area. Maps can be made various sizes depending on the need, from 8x11 to 4’x3’ and can be made on printer or inkjet. IMCAL may charge for the time used in making large scale detailed maps.