The Livingston Economic Development Council has tapped David O. Bennett, senior business development manager at Louisiana Economic Development, to be the group’s president and CEO.
“I think he’s a gentleman who shows any prospect — small, medium or large — any and every benefit that’s available in the state of Louisiana and Livingston Parish,” said Buddy Wells, a LEDC board member who also worked on the search committee. “I think he’s a very analytical gentleman who can put all the facts and figures on paper and show somebody where the I-12 corridor would be a good investment for any company to move to.”
Wells said the search committee looked at several candidates before recommending Bennett.
Bennett’s experience includes work in LED’s small business segment, including the Economic Gardening Initiative and CEO Roundtable, as well as in business expansion and retention. He will start at LEDC on April 25.
Bennett said he and the board haven’t discussed the areas of emphasis going forward.
“I don’t really have a set plan. Sites are always a big issue,” Bennett said. “LED has talked about it for many years, and they’ve made a big push over at LEDC to start identifying more sites.”
He also will continue the council’s business outreach efforts and work with existing businesses.
One opportunity is in advanced manufacturing, Bennett said. Livingston offers an advantage to companies for whom rail or interstate transportation is important, and those that don’t necessarily want to be in Baton Rouge or New Orleans.
Bennett follows Larry Collins as chief executive officer of the council. Collins had been in the job for less than a year when Gov. John Bel Edwards named him as executive director for LED’s Office of International Commerce.
Wells said no one at LEDC faults Collins for pursuing the state job. Collins did a good job while he was at LEDC and will continue to be an asset to the parish.
But the council feels that Bennett could be in the position for many years, Wells said.
Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr