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|Parish, cities work to lure company to former Guide plant|
New business would potentially bring in 1,500 jobs
Several local governmental entities met Friday to support funding of up to $15 million to help lure an undisclosed company to the former Guide Plant in Monroe.
The prospect could attribute to roughly 1,500 new jobs at the plant, according to local and state officials.
The cities of Monroe and West Monroe along with the Ouachita Parish Police Jury agreed Friday to contribute funding toward an incentive package for the undisclosed company, which also is looking at locating in either Mississippi or Alabama.
Under the proposed agreement, local entities would contribute to the Louisiana Economic Development's incentive package.
LED has received the application from a "private industrial concern" for benefits and inducements for businesses to locate in Louisiana.
The first $2 million of local funds would be paid by the OEDC Land Corp.
OEDC Land Corp. met Friday. President Ben Peters said OEDC the group voted during the meeting to join the cooperative endeavor agreement.
OEDC Land Corp. received $3.25 million from the state in 2007 from the purchase of the old State Farm building.
Under the proposed agreement, another $2 million would be paid by the cities of Monroe and West Monroe and the police jury.
The city of Monroe would provide 50 percent of the $2 million, followed by 25 percent funding from both the city of West Monroe and police jury.
The remaining $11 million in local funding would be paid by the three governmental entities along with the I-20 Economic Development Corp.
The city of Monroe would provide 45 percent of the $11 million, followed by 30 percent from the police jury, 20 percent from the city of West Monroe, and 5 percent from the I-20 Economic Development Corp.
According to the proposed agreement approved by local entities Friday, no portion of this funding will be due before the lapse of one year from the execution of this agreement.
State officials have declined to release the total amount of the incentive package.
Money from the incentive package would be used by the potential company to remodel, improve and equip the former Guide plant in order to meet its needs to operate as a manufacturing facility.
West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris said Friday that local entities will not be required to fulfill any financial commitment unless the company agrees to locate in the former Guide plant.
Local officials also have a year to come up with a "financing plan to make the money flow," Norris said.
Local officials believe in order to meet this financial obligation, residents in Ouachita Parish will eventually be asked to approve a property tax.
"We didn't have a lot of time to explore avenues to finance this. It's a fairly large sum of money in a short period of time. I do think when people hear about the project and understand the magnitude of it, it's very possible we can get a cooperative endeavor agreement between the three governments to propose and support a very small millage. We really haven't gone into detail about this, but we just knew we couldn't let this opportunity pass. We are going to make this work. We're not doing it for ourselves. We're doing it for the people who live here and those who will enjoy the jobs," Norris said.
Police Jury president Shane Smiley added, "This is a wonderful day for Ouachita Parish. This has been a cumulative effort of all parties involved, and a lot of hard work over several months has gone into this project and we're elated to get to this point today."
Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said the proposed company would not only enhance all of Ouachita Parish, but the entire northeast Louisiana region.
He believes the state and local governments have put together an incentive package that will be hard to refuse.
"We think it will be very attractive to the prospect we're trying to lure to our parish," he said. "I think this is another blue ribbon opportunity to get them here."
Local and state officials expect the company will make a decision in the next few weeks on where it will locate.