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|Economic development groups consider merger|
Two organizations responsible for economic development efforts in north Louisiana announced Monday they are considering joining forces.
The executive committee of the Northwest Louisiana Economic Development Foundation (NLEDF) and the interim board of the North Louisiana Economic Development Corporation (NLEDC) said the two organizations are exploring the possibility of forming one organization to promote economic development throughout 14 parishes in north Louisiana.
Currently, NLEDF represents 10 parishes in the northwest corridor of Louisiana and NLEDC represents five parishes in the north central and northeast Louisiana. Since Lincoln Parish is involved in both organizations, the combined number of parishes of the newly formed entity would consist of 14 parishes.
"Given the increasing global perspective of so many businesses, Minden isn't really that far from Monroe, nor is Bastrop that far from Bossier City, especially when you're looking at a map from places like India, Australia, France or Argentina - all of which have companies located in north Louisiana," said Stacey Goff, general counsel at CenturyTel in Monroe. Goff is one of the leaders at NLEDC.
Harold Turner, president of Red River Bank who serves as chairman of NLEDF, said, "The idea is simply to leverage an increased resource base and larger service/market area so that we could attract much more attention from consultants and companies."
"Using a retail analogy, the idea is to explore what would happen if northwest and north central Louisiana could go from being two medium size 'grocery stores' operating separately to becoming a major 'superstore' or 'power center?'" Turner said. "This regional 'superstore,' if you will, could offer existing and prospective employers even more options to meet their needs. Instead of being a 10 parish region and a five parish region, consider what benefits come with being a 14-parish region."
Charles Coyle, incoming chairman of NLEDF and president of Coyle Engineering, said, "Our goal is to complete the dialogue and offer a final recommendation within the next six to eight weeks. Should the proposed opportunity to work together in a more formal way remain attractive to both organizations, the NLEDC and the NLEDF would each call a special meeting to ask for formal confirmation/ratification of a partnership agreement."
James Moore, a member of NLEDC's interim board said, "Those involved in preliminary/exploratory discussions are encouraged by the potential synergies and possibilities. No doubt there will be some logistical and structural challenges that arise as the process evolves. But because there are many similarities and common interests, these challenges appear to be rather easy to overcome. Around the US and the world, regions are increasingly working together in varying combinations. The intent is to harness joint resources in ways that succeed in attracting investment and jobs. In some places, regions have actually crossed state lines. This is all to say, the enhanced potential of a 14-parish area is not an unproven idea."