St. John the Baptist Parish: Booming for Businesses
Location, incentives and resources make the parish an ideal small and large business destination.
It’s a good place to live, work and expand large companies and small businesses.
For companies looking to locate, invest and/or expand, advantages here include low-cost structures, revolving loan funds and free business counseling, and parish officials work closely with local and state economic development agencies to provide tax credits and incentive programs. It’s a fact that the state of Louisiana offers some of the most attractive incentives in the country for large and small businesses.
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Also attractive to the business community is the superior infrastructure of St. John the Baptist Parish, located in the heart of the metropolitan Baton Rouge-New Orleans corridor that provides easy access to national and international markets. The parish’s network of highways, airports, railroads and the Port of South Louisiana link businesses with commercial hubs throughout the southern U.S., as well as nationally and globally.
Because of all its business advantages, the parish has become a hotspot for a number of leading industrial sectors, led especially by agriculture, petrochemicals and steel. Some of the biggest and most recognized names in those three industries are thriving in St. John.
For agriculture, major area companies include ADM Growmark and Cargill, while chemical and petrochemicals-based companies include Evonik Industries, Denka, DuPont and Marathon Petroleum Company LP. Examples of large manufacturers in the region are Bayou Steel Group of LaPlace and Louisiana CAT.
“We anticipate $23 billion worth of expansion projects over the next few years, with our region positioned for opportunity in a myriad of ways,” says Chassity McComack, executive director of the River Region Chamber of Commerce whose mission is to grow businesses in St. John, St. James and St. Charles parishes. “A big reason for growth in our region is the Port of South Louisiana, with the majority of freight comprised of petrochemicals, maize, soybeans and crude oil.”
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McComack points out that a key way for growing business in the region is building coalitions between St. John, St. James and St. Charles.
“With each of our parishes operating their own economic development departments, the River Region Chamber stands ready to be additive and supportive to their recruitment efforts to help bring new business to the region,” she says. “The River Region Chamber formed 13 years ago and continues its mission to grow, strengthen and unify businesses in St. John, St. James and St. Charles parishes.”
The region has made great strides, especially in recent years, with businesses rebuilding and flourishing after Hurricane Isaac hit the Louisiana coastal area in August 2012. Since then, officials have looked to diversify the economy, including the addition of a growing film and TV industry with the St. John Center Soundstage, where movies, TV series and commercials are produced.
One TV drama series that is filmed largely at the Soundstage and has become an award-winning show is Queen Sugar, which follows a woman who leaves her upscale home in Los Angeles to inherit and run an 800-acre sugar cane farm in southern Louisiana. Oprah Winfrey is an executive producer of Queen Sugar and the series airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network, with many of the scenes filmed in the communities of LaPlace and Edgard.
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Meanwhile, the parish and metropolitan region also have a strong and hard-working civilian labor force, and more than 65,000 students are enrolled in the area’s nine universities and eight community/technical colleges. One of the leading academic institutions is South Central Louisiana Technical College (SLCTC), is recognized amongst the state’s leaders in workforce development.
“Classes and technical assistance continue to be offered at the St. John Business Training Center located at South Central Louisiana Technical College,” says Jerry W. Jones Jr., St. John the Baptist Parish director of economic development. “Much of the trainings focus on business development, marketing, financing and access to capital.”
SCL Technical College offers 18 programs and prepares students with job skills that are necessary for today’s job market in St. John the Baptist Parish, with programs such as electrical technology, industrial instrumentation, industrial maintenance and process production technology.