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|Economic alliance still needs CEO|
The North Louisiana Economic Partnership is still on track to begin operations Jan. 1.
The partnership is a new economic development alliance comprised of Ouachita, Lincoln, Morehouse, Jackson and Union parishes.
Local businessmen Todd Perry and James Moore have been heavily involved in developing the new regional alliance.
In an interview earlier this week, Perry said the group hopes to have a new chief executive officer hired by the end of January.
North Louisiana Economic Partnership also has approximately $2.5 million committed from the private and public sector for the next three years.
Partnership representatives had a goal to raise $1 million for the next three years. So far, the group has $850,000 committed for each year.
The goal of the new partnership is to create 1,500 new, high-quality jobs, with a payroll of $30 million to $40 million annually. Those new jobs would bring about $450 million in new capital investments to the area.
The economic development alliance has worked with Research Development Group over the past year to develop a marketing plan for the region. RDG also has helped the alliance with its fundraising campaign.
For the next three years, the regional alliance plans to use $1 million per year for marketing/image enhancement, new business recruitment, administration purposes, special projects and existing industrial support.
Perry said the group will be ready "to hit the ground running" once its new CEO is hired later this month. North Louisiana Economic Partnership's board of directors interviewed about a dozen candidates recently, but none were selected to become the new CEO.
Perry expects four more candidates will be interviewed over the next week. He hopes the partnership will select a new CEO from that batch of candidates.
"In a very short order, this effort will be up and running," Perry said. "The CEO is really the most important piece because we want to give that person a clean slate to work from."
"The CEO will help determine our strengths and weaknesses and work to market our area," he said. "We're working to quickly get our CEO, and once that is done, we'll be off to the races."
In the meantime, Perry believes with the current economic situation facing the country, now is a good time "to get our house in order, so hopefully we can take advantage of future expansion" once the economy improves.
Perry said support for the new economic alliance has been outstanding, both in financial donations and the cooperation among many different people.
He believes there is momentum growing in northeast Louisiana to make a regional push for more economic development.
Representatives with the North Louisiana Economic Partnership agree it will take a regional approach to bring in more economic development to northeast Louisiana, Perry said.
He believes that for too long the area has been divided on the economic development front. However, he thinks the people involved in economic development throughout northeast Louisiana now realize a regional approach to bringing new jobs and businesses to the area is the best bet to spur the local economy.
Besides Moore and Perry, the new economic alliance is being led by James Davison, a Ruston businessman; Randy Ewing, former Senate president; Glen Post, CEO of CenturyTel; and Elton Kennedy, an agri-businessman from Mer Rouge.