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|Economic development alliance asks police jury for money|
Representatives from the northeast Louisiana regional economic alliance met with the Ouachita Parish Police Jury Monday to ask for financial assistance.
Parish businessmen Todd Perry and James Moore, who are involved in developing a regional economic development organization, spoke to the police jurors about the matter Monday at the police jury's regular meeting.
Currently the economic alliance is conducting fundraising efforts and searching for a chief executive officer, Perry said.
"Obviously the purpose of what we're doing is to bring economic development to our region," Perry said. "That's something that's very important. We think that by bringing a regional effort - more than just one parish and one city - together as a five parish effort, it will strengthen our chances.
One of the goals the alliance hopes to achieve entails creating 1,500 new, high quality jobs, with a total payroll of $30 million to $40 million. The new jobs would bring about some $450 million in new capital investments.
"If this regional effort can come together and pull this off, this would be tremendous not only for Ouachita Parish, but for the cities of Monroe and West Monroe and other parishes, too," Perry said.
Moore said a regional approach to economic development was a must.
"What we have found is that the communities that have been successful regarding economic development have done it on a regional basis," Moore said. "For too long everyone's been going a different direction and doing their own thing. We're not creating jobs and we're not getting the job done."
"If you look at different areas, everybody is going to a regional basis," Moore explained. "If a large employer comes in, it will create jobs and payroll whether they locate in Ouachita or Morehouse or Lincoln. We all benefit."
Moore said the business communities in the five parishes that comprise the new regional alliance overwhelmingly support the regional approach.
"They realize this is our best shot to come together and work toward a common goal," Moore said.
For the alliance to work, it will need sustainable funding, according to Perry.
Alliance representatives have met with potential donors, who are being asked to donate at least $125,000 annually.
The alliance also is asking municipalities for $2 per capita, and 50 cents per capita from the parishes.
The regional alliance is comprised of Ouachita, Lincoln, Union, Morehouse and Jackson parishes.
So far 17 companies have pledged money to the alliance, giving it almost $500,000. About 30 other companies could possibly provide another $365,000 in funding, Perry said.
Perry said the alliance will need at least $1 million per year in sustainable funding.
"That's what it will take," Perry said.
A fundraising campaign dedicated to the regional alliance will conclude in October.
The CEO search also has gone well, Perry said. More than 100 people have applied for the job.
From that number, Perry believes the alliance will pick from among the top 12 candidates.
Perry anticipates the alliance will interview the candidates by October, and have the CEO ready to begin work by Jan. 1, 2009.
The jury took no action nor discussed the matter with the alliance representatives following their presentation.