St. James Parish
The Gem of the Mississippi River, nestled between both New Orleans and Baton Rouge, where you will find a wealth of festivals, rich culture of historic plantations and other landmarks, charming bed and breakfast cottages, economic developments along the river, and mouth-watering Cajun/Creole cuisines is St. James Parish. A place where residents live, work and play.
St. James Parish, like many other parishes in 2005, as the result of Hurricane Katrina, were faced with unanticipated challenges in responding to and recovering from this natural disaster. This disaster resulted in an influx of transients causing significant strain on local resources. While tourism-related activities were a significant driver to the local economy (averaging 4000+ annually), it drastically declined after Hurricane Katrina, this factor led to plantation owners reducing the number staff and threatened permanent closure; hence, there was a period of stagnant growth in new businesses and industries.
Pre-Katrina, St. James Parish with a population of 20,740 (US Census), was a tranquil community with two major non-industrial employers: St. James Parish Government and St. James Parish School Board.
St. James Parish Government employing over 200, with the responsibility of maintaining the parish’s infrastructure public work projects, human services, recreation, public transportation, public libraries, emergency preparedness operations, and other governmental services, were hard-pressed in its response to the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
St. James Parish School Board was an educational system faced with many challenges, (i.e., an increasing number of high school drop outs, low performing schools, retention of quality staff and teachers, etc.).
St. James Parish Hospital, a 20-bed hospital, was limited in its specialized services to residents. For instance, expectant Mothers were commuting to nearby parishes for services and delivery. Having these limitations, made it extremely difficult to triage during Hurricane Katrina.
St. James Parish Sheriff’s department, with less than 100 employees, responsible for the safety and protection of residents, had limited resources in its effort to respond to the needs during Hurricane Katrina.
MAJOR CHANGES SINCE KATRINA
While Hurricane Katrina proved to be a challenge, it also attested that St. James Parish is a resilient community. Now with a population of 21,220 (US Census 2015), St. James Parish overall has enhanced its health care system, educational system, recreation parks, public libraries, tourism and business/industry sectors, as well as infrastructure projects.
St. James Parish has flourished with several new businesses (600+ small businesses) and industries (5+ potential), bringing a significant economic impact to the local economy; thus, allowing for a more sustainable employment and better quality of life for residents. Not only is there an influx of businesses and industries relocating to St. James Parish, there are diverse tourism-related businesses (cruise lines) and the film industry taking an interest of what this parish offers; thus, increasing the number of tourists, now averaging 10,000+ annually, with Festival of Bonfire and Plantation Homes Festivals events further boosting local economy and interest to St. James Parish.
St. James Parish Hospital now has a newly constructed 25-bed hospital that include a medical pavilion offering specialized health care services and wellness programs. This new facility welcome residents from neighboring parishes for services.
St. James Parish School Board has taken significant measures to improve the local education system (Science & Math Academy, Magnet Schools, B+ rating schools, College and Technical Curriculum, etc.). Collaborative partnerships with local industries and technical colleges has created new opportunities for students. Industries’ “The Next25” support group, patterns future work opportunities for those students interested in technical careers.
St. James Parish Sheriff’s Department, now employees over 100 qualified and trained staff, has new and enhanced equipment and vehicles and to protect and serve the community. And is better prepared to respond to emergencies whether man-made or natural.
St. James Parish Government has renovated and enhanced the public libraries technology access; the water treatment plants, recreation parks to now include “splash pads” and soccer fields, with a new recreation facility (under construction) to include a “safe room” for residents, and other sporting activities. The Emergency Preparedness Department has a newly constructed warehouse for an easier and ready access to equipment, supplies and materials pre/post emergencies. This warehouse will allow for a “safe rest area” for emergency response teams.
St. James Parish Government has built a new judicial building to accommodate the court system and other related activities.
Protection of People and Property is St. James Parish Government’s primary focus. To do this, there are several drainage projects under consideration and with the approval of the West Shore Pontchartrain Lake Project by the US Corps, it is the intent to garner the necessary funding to build flood protection walls, ring levees, and/or berms on the east bank of St. James Parish.
St. James Parish uses several media outlets: Webpage, Facebook and Twitter, where residents, visitors, and community partners can visit for more information about its programs, events, and activities.