Louisiana’s Certified Sites program was first launched in 2012 to enhance the state’s business-friendly environment and to help attract investors looking to locate and start their operations quickly. The program was first intended for sites of 25 acres or more and was targeted toward heavy industrial projects.
Louisiana Economic Development’s (LED) Certified Sites program became one of the most successful site-readiness programs in the country. Today, only one state has more shovel-ready sites backed by a high level of due diligence. That due diligence includes inspections for wetlands, flood zone identification, a search for cultural or archaeological artifacts, an environmental investigation, clear title verification, and other queries on issues that often cause delays when construction projects attempt to break ground.
Presently, there are more than 100 Certified Industrial Sites across the state, including 10 sites in Southwest Louisiana, with more coming soon.
To build upon this success, LED recently expanded its certification program to include smaller certified business sites, which are more ideal for commercial businesses and low-impact industries. These sites, ranging between 10 and 25 acres, are more suitable for business parks, mixed-use developments, or other light industries such as warehouses, distribution centers, and other non-smokestack manufacturing centers.
Aside from the property size difference, another distinction between a business certified site and an industrial certified site is that the smaller sites require less due diligence. The infrastructure demands and environmental impacts of a commercial business or light industry aren’t as intensive as a heavy industrial footprint. However, like industrial certification, LED will pay 75% of the due diligence costs, as long as those costs don’t exceed $1,000 per acre. The remaining 25% and any amount over $1,000 per acre is paid by the landowner or a third party.
Advantages of a business certified site are similar to an industrial certified site. They are deemed development ready, are more competitive than non-certified sites, have greater marketability, and are granted priority when site selectors are looking for a place to locate a business.
“LED certified business sites play an important role in our inventory of certified sites by increasing opportunities for potential projects that don’t require as large a facility footprint,” says Daniel Michel, LED’s site development program manager. “We are looking forward to the business investment prospects and diversified job growth this program will bring.”
Indeed, if Louisiana is to remain competitive against other states in landing investments, certified business sites can provide a distinct advantage in luring potential prospects. Remember, economic developers find that speed to market is one of the most important elements investors and site selectors look at when trying to choose a location to operate.
If you have property you are interested in getting certified under this program, please contact The Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance to learn more about site requirements and eligibility.