SPRINGFIELD — Livingston Parish’s economic growth over the past year shows no signs of slowing down, thanks in part to cooperative efforts among leaders across the parish, officials said Wednesday.
“It’s gotta be a team effort; it can’t be about going solo anymore in our parish. We’re growing too fast,” Parish President Layton Ricks told business leaders at Carter Plantation during his annual State of the Parish address.
Ricks touted the recent announcement that EPIC Piping will locate a $45.3 million advanced pipe fabrication plant and headquarters off Interstate 12 at La. 63 as evidence of what teamwork can bring to the parish. Ricks said he and Randy Rogers, director of the Livingston Economic Development Council, met both individually and together with the company about the project, which will bring 560 full-time jobs.
Those jobs will allow parish residents to work closer to home, giving them more time with their families, Ricks said.
Walker Mayor Rick Ramsey said another major announcement is expected next week for a “major warehouse distribution center” to be located in the Livingston Parish Industrial Park in Walker. That project represents a $20 million investment, following quick on the heels of the $2.1 million expansion of nearby Oxlean Manufacturing announced in December, Ramsey said.
Denham Springs soon will be home to a new Jimmy John’s, a Firehouse Subs, a specialty meats shop and a gunsmith, as well as two developments near Bass Pro Shops totaling about 75,000 square feet, Mayor Gerard Landry said.
And Juban Crossing continues to open new stores, with restaurants like Walk-On’s and Stroubes plus the Movie Tavern scheduled to open later this year, Ricks said.
Landry said Denham Springs has seen steady growth in its sales tax collections each year, despite the openings at Juban Crossing. Collections were up 3.3 percent in 2013, 4.9 percent in 2014 and 3.4 percent so far this year.
“We’re doing all we can to attract as many businesses and jobs to the city as we can,” Landry said.
Livingston Mayor Derral Jones spoke briefly of his excitement about the EPIC project before addressing another kind of growth he said people frequently quiz him about: annexation.
The town of Livingston recently annexed a swath of land within the proposed boundaries of Satsuma, where residents were seeking incorporation until a state court judge halted the March 28 election.
“They want a seat at the table, and I don’t blame them,” Jones said of the Satsuma incorporation organizers. “But when they drew the map, it was just too radical.”
Several landowners just west of Livingston asked the town to annex their properties, rather than face possible incorporation with Satsuma.
The annexation also included the section of I-12 between the Livingston and Satsuma interchanges, effectively cutting the proposed town of Satsuma in half by making the two pieces noncontiguous. Walker city limits already includes the section of I-12 between it and Satsuma.
Jones said the Satsuma organizers’ goal of stopping or controlling economic development opportunities, such as a proposed general aviation airport, would be detrimental to all parish entities that depend on tax revenue, including the schools and Sheriff’s Office.
“Everybody pays a price when progress is stopped,” he said.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen. Contact her by phone at (225) 336-6981.