Jefferson Parish is a dominant force within the Greater New Orleans region. It sits at the heart of the largest intermodal transportation system in the South. It is home to the largest population in the region with the largest tax base and the largest workforce. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it was the staging ground for the recovery.
In recent years, major companies, like the Smoothie King International Headquarters, returned home to Jefferson Parish after the storm to invest in the community. These companies choose to do this because of Jefferson Parish’s educated workforce, the international airport, the community’s accessibility, and a strong pro-business climate. In the aftermath of Katrina, Jefferson Parish has emerged stronger than ever, boasting a diverse industry base made up of companies that have chosen to locate here.
MAJOR CHANGES SINCE KATRINA
School System: The Jefferson Parish Public School System has realized a 17% increase in district performance score and enrollment numbers are up. Currently, JPPSS boasts 38 A and B schools across the parish. Several schools in the Parish ranked among the top 10 in the state over the last several years, according to U.S. News and World Report. The Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy highlights a new regional trend in which schools are increasing curriculum focus on science and technology. The programs better prepare the Jefferson Parish students for future careers in the technology and bioscience industries.
Beautification Projects: $3 million was spent in beautification projects in the aftermath of Katrina to install sculptures along major corridors around the parish. Fountains were recently installed on Veterans Memorial Boulevard and murals have been painted in Fat City.
Recreation: Jefferson Parish is family-friendly. With miles of bike paths, a summer splash park, and new recreational facilities, like the Sector 6 Trampoline Park, popping up regularly, the parish has a variety of offerings for residents. In 2012, NOLA Motorsports Park, a state-of-the-art race track and karting facility, opened in Jefferson Parish. In 2015, the track was home to the first Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, attracting thousands of visitors to the three-day event. Family Gras and the Gretna Heritage Fest offer live musical guests and plenty of culture for local residents and visitors alike.
Airport: The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International airport is in the process of building a new airport terminal, complete with complete with 30 new gates, a new hotel and a new Interstate-10 ramp. The airport has added new international and non-stop flights and MSY surpassed pre-Katrina passenger numbers in 2014.
Flood Protection: $14 billion spent regionally in hurricane protection improvements and $1 billion spent to improve internal drainage infrastructure
KEY COMMUNITY FOCUSES
Churchill Technology & Business Park: A 500-acre tract of developable land upon which to build a business park. It is already home to the JEDCO administrative offices, the JEDCO Conference Center, the Business Innovation Center, an incubator for startup companies, and the Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy, which is home to some of the best and brightest students in the region. Churchill Park is part of a larger area, called Fairfield. That is 8,000 acres of land that has been identified for mix-use development.
Elmwood: This area of Jefferson Parish has the number one sales tax in the region. Since 2013, over 16 new units have been added to the Elmwood Shopping Center, making it an attractive retail location for Parish residents.
Fat City:This small area in Jefferson Parish was identified as unique opportunity for growth. It is currently undergoing a major revitalization. New businesses, such as Chronos Body, Health & Wellness, a new Sheriff substation, and a handful of new restaurants, are choosing to locate in the area. The Parish updated zoning ordinances.
Laketown:This area highlights an incredible opportunity for waterfront development adjacent to other assets, such as the Treasure Chest Casino, the Pontchartrain Center, and Coconut Beach, which features the largest manmade outdoor sand volleyball courts in the country.
Huey P. Long Bridge Expansion: The lanes on this iconic bridge were expanded after the storm to more effectively connect the East and West Bank of Jefferson Parish. This is attractive to companies choosing to locate to the area. For instance, Dyno Nobel, a global leader in the chemical industry, chose to build its new ammonia production facility on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish because the bridge offers easy access to the East Bank and the major Interstates running through the Parish.
NEW PHYSICAL ASSETS
- Sector Gate – south of Harvey Canal 13 safe houses built in Jefferson Parish pump stations
- NOLA Motorsports Park – state-of-the-art facility in Fairfield that will be the new home of the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana
- Huey P. Long Bridge Expansion
- Churchill Technology & Business Park
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WINS AND INVESTMENT
Dyno Nobel, a global leader in the chemical industry, broke ground on an $850 million ammonia production facility in Waggaman in 2013. Construction of the facility is 75% complete. The company will create 65 new jobs and retain 441 jobs. With an additional $175 million in infrastructure maintenance to Cornerstone Chemical Company, the total combined investment of the project is over $1 billion. It is the largest project in JEDCO history.
Smoothie King got its start in Jefferson Parish in 1973. In 2013, the company located its international headquarters back to Jefferson Parish, creating 60 new jobs and retaining 45 to the region. Smoothie King launched its international growth strategy from the new headquarters with plans to add over 1,000 stores national and internationally by 2017. Smoothie King invested in the region through a partnership with the New Orleans Pelicans to receive naming rights to the iconic arena.
Starr Textile Services, a commercial laundry company, relocated to Elmwood to service the regional hospitality industry. Of the $10 million investment, JEDCO financed $4.3 million of the project, making it the largest SBA 504 loan in JEDCO history. The move created 90 new jobs in Jefferson Parish.
NOLA Motorsports Park, a state-of-the-art race track and high-speed karting event facility on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish, is the new home of the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, an event that drew thousands to the West Bank of Jefferson Parish over the three-day event. The total investment of the project comes in at over $70 million.
Chronos Body, Health, and Wellness, a 24-hour fitness facility and wellness center, opened in Fat City in early 2014. The 13,000 square foot space breathes new life into Fat City. Of the $4 million project, JEDCO financed $1.9 million of it.
Delgado Community College broke ground on the River City Campus and Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence in the Churchill Technology & Business Park in May 2015. Upon completion, the campus will attract up to 3,000 students to the tech park.
Entergy Ninemile Point Plant opened its state-of-the-art megawatt natural gas unit in early 2015. The nearly $700 million investment uses 30% less fuel than existing natural gas combustion units.
Zatarain’s unveiled its $26 million plant expansion in 2015, which will expand the existing facility by 80,000 square feet.
Inspired Living, a NFL Alumni Association-backed assisted living facility, is approved for development the City of Kenner. It will accommodate 160 residents and will feature a variety of unique amenities.
The Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy, a $36 million regional magnet school with an emphasis on science and technology opened in 2013 at the Churchill Technology and Business Park. It is home to some of the best and brightest students in the region.
The JEDCO Conference Center opened in the Churchill Technology & Business Park in 2014. The 8,000 square foot space has become a go-to event location for many local businesses and organizations.
Ochsner Health Systems announced plans to expand the number of floors in the Main Campus facility on Jefferson Highway. The hospital system also constructed a pedestrian bridge over Jefferson Highway to connect physician’s offices to the main facility.
MMI Culinary Services, a local food distributor, expanded and upgraded its headquarters, acquiring a 65,000 square foot facility in Kenner to consolidate distribution operations and increase production capacity. The total renovation cost $12 million.
Retail: Elmwood Shopping Center completed a 65,000 square-foot expansion with 16 new units, welcoming companies like Theo’s Pizza, ULTA Cosmetics, and Chipotle Mexican Grill to the area. Along Veterans Memorial Boulevard, newly built chains such as Panera Bread, Bonefish Grill, and Buffalo Wild Wings became fast favorites for local restaurants. Dick’s Sporting Goods opened at the Oakwood Center Mall in Terrytown, reopening fourth wing of the mall, which had been dormant since Hurricane Katrina. That created 150 construction jobs and 270 direct jobs. Oakwood Mall also welcomed H&M and Buca di Beppo, a family style Italian restaurant, in 2015. The Esplanade Mall announced a new anchor tenant, Image, which will fill 46,000 square feet of anchor space and will feature young adult clothing. The city of Kenner attracted Louisiana’s first location for At Home, a national home décor superstore, to the Pavilion Shopping Center, creating 25 jobs. New grocery stores, such as Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market, and Langenstein’s, offer a variety of options to residents.
In 2013, JEDCO launched a Jefferson Parish-based pitch competition for local startup companies, which was held in conjunction with New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Through the generous support of local businesses, the organization has been able to provide winning entrepreneurs with a cash prize of $20,000 and additional in-kind services, such as marketing and PR assistance, legal advice, and accounting services. Winners include:
- Be Well Nutrition, Inc: The company develops nutritional, meal replacement beverages for on-the-go individuals.
- PortaVision Medical: This company developed an x-ray system that can be used in Neonatal Intensive Care Units.
- InnoGenomics Technologies: This company developed a blood test that can detect and monitor cancer.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) jumped into action. The organization held over 13,000 business counseling sessions in 2006, opened assistance centers, and intensified offerings for financial assistance. In the years following the storm, JEDCO implemented the Business Recovery Grant and Loan program to retain and create investment and jobs in Jefferson Parish. JEDCO funded 548 grants for over $10 million and approved 72 loans totaling more than $9 million.
The Jefferson EDGE
The Jefferson EDGE is Jefferson Parish’s long-term strategic economic development plan to promote sustainability, job growth, and investment in Jefferson Parish. Over the course of its 15-year history, The EDGE has served as a road map for the community’s development. Through proactive efforts of stakeholders, JEDCO, and elected officials, The EDGE has delivered game-changing initiatives such as the development of the 500-acre Churchill Technology and Business Park, a 500-acre tract of developable land to aid in Jefferson Parish business growth. Following Hurricane Katrina, the EDGE shifted its focus to quality of life improvements related to education, crime abatement, flood protection, the beautification of major corridors, and Fat City redevelopment. Through the EDGE, JEDCO launched a successful marketing campaign to promote quality of life in Jefferson Parish.
While the objectives of the current EDGE are largely fulfilled, the results of this plan are tangible and ongoing. In order to stay relevant in a consistently changing economic climate, JEDCO began spearheading a new strategic planning process to arrive at an updated, refocused Jefferson EDGE with a five-year scope addressing the parish’s most current impediments to growth as well as economic growth opportunities. The updated plan targets major industry clusters and addresses cross-cutting issues, such as workforce development and mobility.