Louisiana is primed for economic growth – and Entergy Louisiana is working together with local organizations to streamline the site selection and development process. Through a partnership between Louisiana Economic Development (LED) and Entergy Louisiana, we’re committed to making the site selection process as easy as possible for site location consultants and prospective businesses. If your business is looking to relocate or expand in Louisiana, you’ll have access to the right information to make key decisions on where your next project should be developed.
SIMPLIFYING SITE SELECTION
The LED Certified Sites program was created to make Louisiana competitive while simplifying the site selection process. The program qualifies industrial sites based on a variety of factors, including zoning restrictions, environmental assessments, wetlands delineation, soil analysis and even cultural and archaeological surveys. This ensures each site has substantial due diligence studies performed to identify potential issues before construction begins. As a result, companies are able to mitigate risk by understanding what a specific site offers at the very beginning.
“We understand the short timeframes that consultants have to work with. Once a prospect is interested in a location, there is no time to perform the type of due diligence that is needed. That’s why we designed the Certified Sites program – to have the answers before the questions are even asked,” says Michael Tepper, Louisiana Economic Development.
Louisiana is prepped for accelerated economic growth and companies have transparent information to make informed decisions for their business.
“With our commitment to availability of information, more projects arrive at the door with an understanding of the lay of the land and preferred sites and locations in mind,” Tepper says. “I have heard from several companies that were pleasantly surprised to find economic development teams who valued their smaller projects as much as the larger ones, treated them equally well and recognized the impact of well-paying jobs. This kind of customer service mentality helps Louisiana stand apart from the competition.”
STEPS TO SITE CERTIFICATION
There are a wide variety of groups with available sites, including property owners, municipalities, local economic development professionals, regional partners, utilities and ports. These sites are then vetted to ensure there are no immediate red flags. Once a site is deemed a likely candidate for the Certified Sites program, LED’s third-party engineering partners perform an Initial Site Evaluation (ISE). This takes a desktop view of the property, layering on flood maps, high probability wetlands coverage, cultural features, transportation infrastructure and more.
The ISE is then evaluated on a bi-weekly basis to assess any changes. After reaching a consensus on location, a Memorandum of Understanding is entered by all parties and Request for Proposals go out for qualified engineering companies to competitively bid on the required due diligence work. The entire site certification process can take six months or more.
“The Louisiana State Legislature funded LED’s Economic Development Readiness Program (EDRED) to offset the cost of site certification by 75 percent. LED makes a point to be as transparent as possible,” Tepper says. “With the use of taxpayer dollars comes department-wide commitment to availability of information.”
A PORTAL FOR PROSPECTIVE BUSINESSES
In partnership with LED, Entergy Louisiana built the Site Selection Center to provide a comprehensive database of available sites for prospective businesses and site location consultants. LED, all eight regional economic development partners and local organizations utilize this website as their go-to resource. With an extensive selection of development-ready sites to choose from, your business has access to key information about each site to make informed decisions.
“Certified sites submitted by regional and local partners are listed on the Site Selection Center,” Tepper explains. “Entergy Louisiana has made it possible for the entire state to have a singular portal for property owners and professionals to find each other – and that is invaluable.”
With a commitment to transparency, LED and Entergy Louisiana ensure information is available for prospective businesses on the Louisiana Site Selection Center. All studies are uploaded to the website, which acts as a public-facing repository. As site consultants search for locations throughout Louisiana, they have the ability to filter results by distance to rail, distance to interstate, acreage, price and other criteria. All reports are available for immediate download.
The Site Selection Center also features GIS mapping technology in our search feature with the ability to search based on certain filters, as well as the ability to toggle on/off other GIS features (like Transportation, FEMA data, National Wetlands Inventory, Incentive Boundaries) to see where the listings are in relation to those features.
The Site Selection Center also has the ability to provide free, customizable demographic reports to all users.
“The Site Selection Center helps us put our best foot forward in showcasing what our state has to offer to business and industry,” said Ed Jimenez, Entergy Louisiana Vice President of Business and Economic Development. “It provides great detail on infrastructure and demographics, whether it is access to an airport or navigable waterway or a combination of related elements, Louisiana likely has it. With this tool, we are able to show the world that Louisiana is more than ready for national, and even global partnerships.”
INDUSTRIES MAKING INVESTMENTS
Showcasing the impact of the Certified Sites program, many companies have made the decision to do business in the state, even amid the coronavirus pandemic. A wide variety of industries are attracted to Louisiana’s conflux of rail, deep draft marine transportation, interstate highway access and a robust network of pipelined products. The infrastructure benefits, in addition to the state’s unique approach to workforce development, makes it an ideal place for business growth. Amazon is one example of a company that took advantage of the program with its short timeframe to make a site selection decision. The mega-retailer is currently building its fifth fulfillment center in Louisiana, the most recent is expected to be around 1-millon square feet and employ about 500 employees.
In addition, Grön Fuels, Renewable Energy Group and Louisiana Green Fuels recently announced economic development projects, highlighting growth of the energy sector in Louisiana (2021 Silver Shovel Award by Area Development Magazine & No. 2 Deal By Business Facilities). Another win for the state, ElementUS made an $800 million capital investment to extract rare earth elements at the Noranda Alumina refinery in Gramercy.
“While 2020 was challenging for many reasons, we continued to see expansions of Louisiana facilities across the state as well as a number of new faces to the landscape,” Tepper says. “The pandemic did not stop industries from being attracted to Louisiana.”
Ensuring the right fit
LED and Entergy Louisiana understand that prospective businesses have specific needs for their projects. For example, a company may need to be next to a manufacturer of a certain product. Other projects may need to be near an interstate exit or a major university. That’s why we created a tool for decision-makers to have the information they need to not just select a site, but eliminate the sites that simply aren’t the right fit.
“There are no ‘perfect’ sites, but there are sites that are perfect for specific projects,” Tepper says. “Whatever questions businesses ask to cut down their list of potential sites, we want to make sure we have an answer for them. If we can do that, we are confident in our ability to compete with anywhere.