GRAND COTEAU — One Acadiana on Tuesday rolled out the first of its “Priorities for a Better Acadiana,” a set of initiatives designed to maintain and maybe improve Louisiana’s standing as a fertile state to locate a business.
The first priority — keeping the momentum of the last 10 years — was the focus of Tuesday’s announcement at Noble Plastics, a manufacturing company located in south St. Landry Parish.
“During the 25 years from 1980 through just before Hurricane Katrina in (August) 2005, our state’s economy underperformed the South and the U.S.,” One Acadiana President and CEO Jason El Koubi said.
El Koubi said the path laid since 2005 was greatly aided by the state’s economic development arm, Louisiana Economic Development. He said LED helped redefine the state as a place for economic enterprise.
In the past decade, El Koubi said, tens of billions of dollars have been invested in Louisiana, and small businesses have thrived.
“There has never been a better time to pursue economic opportunities right here at home. … We can’t go back to the bad old days,” he said.
El Koubi and others said One Acadiana’s priorities include restoration of some of the business tax credits that legislators effectively neutered in a quest for more cash.
Missy Rogers, Noble Plastics president, said the company she and her husband own benefited greatly from the research and development tax credit.
“Noble Plastics spent nearly $5 million in the last five years on research and development,” Rogers said. “The R&D credit allowed us to take risks in new markets and technologies, creating more business in Louisiana, primarily in the defense industry. … ”
Rogers said her company depended on the tax credit. Legislators, she said, engaged in “changing the rules midstream.”
She said Noble Plastics would continue to experiment in the quest for innovative products, and soon the company will open a second plant in St. Landry Parish.
Mike Tarantino, president and CEO of the Iberia Economic Development Foundation, said the Legislature reacted to Louisiana’s $1.6 billion shortfall for the 2015-16 fiscal year by targeting the tax credits that LED offers businesses, including those for research and development.
Like others Tuesday, Tarantino called for restoration of the LED tax credits.
One Acadiana will go into details on its remaining three “Priorities for a Better Acadiana” one at a time in the next three weeks in different locales.
Priority No. 2 is protecting and advancing the gains Louisiana has made in public education. Detailed information will be given Aug. 12 at the Cecil J. Picard Center on Devalcourt Street in Lafayette. The event will run from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
No. 3 will touch on better development of the region’s workforce, which will be unveiled at the South Louisiana Community College Iberia Campus on Aug. 20. The session starts at 1 p.m.
And on Aug. 27, One Acadiana will give more information on priority No. 4, building Interstate 49 South and other transportation projects. The event will be at the Billeaud Companies office on St. Nazaire Road in Broussard.
One Acadiana, which grew from the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, is the regional economic development organization for nine south Louisiana parishes: Acadia, Jefferson Davis, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Evangeline, Lafayette, Vermilion and Iberia.