Jessica Goff, The Daily Advertiser
CROWLEY — A day after releasing study results showing Acadiana’s lack of industrial-ready sites, officials announced the largest development-certified site in the region.
“The next step is to find somebody with a shovel,” Acadia Parish Police Jury President David Savoy said during Friday’s announcement.
The 536-acre site along Interstate 10, which is owned by Joe Freeland, is the first Louisiana Economic Development-certified site in Acadia Parish and the fourth in the nine-parish Acadiana region.
What’s an LED-certified site? The state program qualifies industrial sites larger than 25 acres based on title work, zoning restrictions, environmental studies, soil analysis and surveys.
A development-ready certified site either has all utilities and infrastructure established or has state-approved engineering plans to install the utility infrastructure within 180 days. Basically, the land has to be prepared for an industrial company to build and move in.
“What you basically need to know is that the Freeland site is shovel-ready for a project,” Crowley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Amy Thibodeaux said inside Crowley’s City Hall on Friday.
The new site brings the total in certified acreage from 219 to 755 in Acadiana. “That’s a 245 percent total increase,” Thibodeaux added.
Thibodeaux was joined by Crowley Mayor Greg Jones, One Acadiana, SLEMCO, the Acadia Parish Police Jury and other partners who worked to get the site LED-certified for new industrial development.
The new certification is a major step forward in keeping the region nationally competitive, officials said Friday.
Acadiana was found to be weak by national consulting firm Garner Economics in its “availability of industrial space, including sites and buildings, as well as office space and sites, which is why increasing the amount of development-ready sites in the region."
The Atlanta-based firm was commissioned by One Acadiana to study the local economy. Garner released its findings Thursday.
Lack of development-ready sites means Acadiana could be passed up by major companies that will instead look toward expanding in other areas of the state like Lake Charles and Baton Rouge.
“A portfolio of marketable sites is a key ingredient in the business development process. The newly certified Freeland Site represents the type of landing pad Acadiana is going to present nationally to business decision makers,” Jason El Koubi, One Acadiana President & CEO said. “What we are celebrating today is a major step in ensuring Acadiana is more competitive when it comes to business recruitment efforts.”