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One Acadiana hits milestone with certified economic development sites now in each parish

William Taylor Potter, Lafayette Daily Advertiser

One Acadiana CEO speaks at 1As launch for its new five-year campaign.

With the addition of a nearly 50-acre site in St. Martin Parish to offer a prospective business, One Acadiana has achieved a significant milestone as a regional economic development organization that also serves as a chamber of commerce.

Since forming in 2015, One Acadiana has been focused on its certified site initiative, a program that evaluates potential industrial sites for potential companies. By adding the Spanish Trail Industrial Park, Acadiana now has a certified site in all nine parishes that can be offered to companies considering locating here.

Acadiana is the only region to reach that accomplishment, said One Acadiana President and CEO Troy Wayman.

This certification is an exciting milestone not only for St. Martin Parish, but for the Acadiana region as a whole, Wayman said.

The organization, along with regional partners and business leaders, celebrated that milestone and other accomplishments Wednesday night. The gathering also looked ahead at economic and community goals for the next five years that One Acadiana will help shepherd.

One Acadiana now has 16 certified sites in its portfolio. To earn the designation as a certified site, One Acadiana works with the landowner to complete several items, such as environmental assessment, topographic survey, and an endangered species investigation  things a company would need to know before selecting a site for a facility.

The site then has to go through a review process by Louisiana Economic Development and a third-party contractor.

Developing a portfolio of certified sites can be an expensive and labor-intensive process on the front end, but it gives One Acadiana a leg up when companies considering locationsstart asking about sites.

We cant sell cars with an empty lot, and thats why were trying to accumulate these certified sites, Wayman said.

Zach Heger, One Acadianas director of business development, said when companies ask about sites, they usually ask for information on a very short timeline, which means economic development groups only have days to put together all the information a company needs to know to determine its time to market.

The time to market is extremely important, Heger said. Well get an email, if were lucky, on a Monday and theyll ask for everything on a Friday. But usually its a Wednesday or Thursday.

If we cant provide that in the time frame thats allotted, were out. Off the bat.

Working to answer all these questions can often take four to six months.

If the site is certified, they already have that information available. And the amount of work One Acadiana puts in on the front end helps limit the companys time to market if it chooses the site.

Its an extraordinary amount of due diligence already done on that site, so they dont have to do that once they decide on the site, Wayman said. It shortens their time frame significantly. It mitigates a lot of their risks.

Having that information available wont guarantee the company will come to Acadiana, but it keeps the area in the running.

You never win a project with the site submission, but you can absolutely lose it, Wayman said.

If the site makes that original cut, the company will generally come for a site visit and do an additional review.

Half the battle is getting the company to do the site visit, Wayman said.

If this can get us in the game, it exponentially increases our chance of winning, Wayman said. Even if they dont like the site, they may like the community enough that theyll look at something else.

Baton Rouge and New Orleans are the only two regions with a larger portfolio than Acadiana, but Wayman said both had a head start on Acadiana.

Louisianas certified site program is not necessarily unique, Wayman said. Other states have this program, but he said Louisianas is strict.

Its not just a box check, Heger said. Theres several eyes that go on the application.

3. Evangeline Ward One Industrial Park (Evangeline Parish)

4. Acadiana Regional Airport Site P1 (Iberia Parish)

6. Allen Estates North Site (Jefferson Davis Parish)

7. Allen Estates South Site (Jefferson Davis Parish)

8. Port Barre Industrial Park – Central Site (St. Landry Parish)

9. Port Barre Industrial Park – East Site (St. Landry Parish)

10. William Memorial Airport Business Park (St. Mary Parish)

15. Acadiana Regional Airport Site P4 (Iberia Parish)

16. Spanish Trail Industrial Park Site (St. Martin Parish)

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser:One Acadiana hits milestone with certified economic development sites now in each parish

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