BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana Economic Development today announced the official launch of the Louisiana Development Ready Communities program after conducting a pilot phase during 2009 and 2010. During the pilot phase, 20 communities were selected throughout Louisiana to complete the program’s four-part process, as well as implement strategic economic development plans.
“If we’re going to be competitive at the state level, we need to be competitive at the community level,” said LED Secretary Stephen Moret. “After seeing the success of the Louisiana Development Ready Communities pilot program, we are excited to officially establish the program within LED. This is a critical step toward strengthening the competitiveness of more communities in all corners of our state.”
Communities must apply for the program each year. All community applications are scored on the following criteria: completeness of application, a resolution by the governing body to support the program, a description of the community's previous and current community and economic development experience, letters of support from local and state leaders, and overall commitment to the aggressive program schedule.
Applications are reviewed through a competitive process led by the Louisiana Development Ready Communities selection committee, which includes representatives from utility companies, Louisiana Association of Planning Districts, the University of New Orleans and LED.
After being selected, each community is assigned a resource team of experienced community and economic development professionals, receives resources and preliminary training and begins a comprehensive community assessment. The communities then complete the program’s strategic planning process that addresses five community needs: infrastructure, workforce, education, marketing and leadership.
LED’s program partners include Entergy, CLECO, Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives, AEP/Southwestern Electric Power Company, the University of New Orleans, Louisiana Municipal Association, Police Jury Association of Louisiana and LSU/SU Extension Services.
The communities selected to participate in the pilot program include Arcadia; Covington; Crowley; DeRidder; Eunice; Farmerville; Grambling; Gretna; Houma; Jena; Mansfield with Logansport, Grand Cane and Stonewall; Natchitoches; New Iberia; New Roads; Pineville; Slidell; St. Martinville; Vivian; West Monroe; and Zachary.