West Feliciana Parish has a new economic development director.

Randy Rogers was hired by Parish President Kevin Couhig to kick start West Feliciana’s efforts to attract new businesses and to expand opportunity for existing businesses.

Rogers, who started Feb. 16, has nearly 40 years of work experience, nearly all in economic development. Most recently he served as a consultant and as president and CEO of the Livingston Economic Development Council from March 2011 until his retirement in May 2015. Prior to that, he worked with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry as an agro-economic development specialist and two stints with the Louisiana Department of Economic Development (1989-2003 and 1977-1982). He also worked with Livingston Bank (1982-1989).

“We are very lucky to have someone of who lives in West Feliciana with the experience Randy brings to the table,” said Couhig. “Since I worked with Randy years ago at the LED, I’ve admired the job he’s done for Livingston Economic Development and in his work with the Department of Agriculture.”

Couhig has been handling economic development duties since Bettsie Norton resigned in March 2015. She replaced Janice Wynn, who filled in after Dennis Manshack was dismissed by Couhig shortly after he took office in January of 2014.

Rogers said he plans to approach his new position similarly to the way he approached his role in Livingston Parish.

“We’re ready for business now and we want to attract businesses that will complement the parish,” Rogers said. “I’ll start out by visiting with the existing manufacturers in the parish. Pretty quickly, I’ll also meet with the governmental officials and the retail businesses and visit with them and assess their needs.”

He plans to focus on several growth opportunities such as affordable residential housing needs and attracting tenants to the new industrial park the parish is planning in the southern part of the parish.

Rogers said he also plans to identify and establish Certified Sites through Louisiana Economic Development that are development-ready industrial sites. LED certification is granted after an extensive application and review process. The benefits, he said, are that once certified, regional and state officials will include the sites in their marketing and strategic efforts when recruiting businesses to Louisiana. He said he also plans to work with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s efforts to market the capitol region.

“The parish has specific economic development goals and I want to see what needs to be done to get us there,” Rogers said. “I think we’ll be one of the key BRAC partners. They bring a lot of resources to the table and state economic development, too. They will help identify the best sources of prospects from out of state. We’re gonna get there.

“Hopefully, with the certified sites, we can get there pretty quickly.”

Rogers will work part-time for the parish.

“What I bring to the parish is 40 years of experience, and I want to help get this economic development program to where it will sustain itself,” said Rogers, whose office will be located in the parish governmental building. “Every parish has assets and I’m sure I will uncover them as I speak to local businesses and officials. For example, the school system is a tremendous asset. The school system helped to jumpstart economic development in Livingston.”