Doing Business

The St. Mary advantage.

St Mary Parish is in the middle of it all – offering an array of advantages that make exploring, living, working and doing business here a wonderful and rewarding experience. Exceptional quality of life, clean air, educational opportunities, vast recreation, and safe environment, as well as, unmatched work ethic, business-friendly atmosphere, and lower-overall cost of living makes the area a dynamic location.

  • Business friendly regulatory atmosphere
  • Available sites and buildings
  • Low cost, reliable power
  • Key transportation routes
  • Unmatched work ethic
  • Real estate tax refunds
  • Investment tax credits
  • Minimal congestion
  • Speed to markets
  • Centrally located

Culture + Industry

St. Mary Parish has more than 54,000 residents contributing to a fascinating cultural mix in the “Heart of the Cajun Coast”. The blending of French, Italian, Spanish, English, African, Native Americans and Cajun Traditions have created a rich and flavorful “Gumbo” of communities dedicated to the family. There are five municipalities Morgan City, Berwick, Patterson, Franklin and Baldwin and the Chitimacha Nation in Charenton. Each community offers its own charm and uniqueness where families can enjoy relaxed living and safe neighborhoods, ideal for raising children or seniors to spoil grandchildren.


The parish wide Public School System has 16 elementary schools and 10 secondary schools including six high schools, with enrollment of 10,000. The average high school classroom size is 21.3 students to 1 teacher, creating a conducive learning environment for the student.

The St. Mary Parish school board and superintendent implemented a plan to offer specialized education to High School Seniors, in conjunction with local businesses and community leaders. The 2006-2007 school year was the inaugural year of implementation at four of the six high schools offering specialized training in the following areas:

  • Metal Working
  • Maritime
  • Agriculture
  • Logistics
  • Technology


St. Mary Parish offers a multi-modal transportation network for its industrial clients. The parish is located in central gulf between New Orleans and Lafayette. US Highway 90 (future I-49) is the 4-lane connecting these two cities.


The Parish has two Class 1 railroads, Burlington Northern (BNSF) and Union Pacific (UP) that provide service. The rail line that parallels Highway 90 can transport a variety of products nationwide. There are several spurs, serviced by the Louisiana and Delta short line that facilitate activity at two ports and heavy industrial sites.


The Parish has two ports, The Port of Morgan City and The Port of West St. Mary. The Port of Morgan City is located at the intersection of the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The Atchafalaya River provides access to the Gulf of Mexico to the south and the Mississippi River to the north. The Port of Morgan City is considered a shallow draft import/export facility and provides support to the oil/gas services industry in the Morgan City area. There is property available for lease with a 20,000 sq. ft. manufacturing warehouse and 5,000 sq. ft. of office space.

The Port of West St. Mary is predominantly an industrial park port with three locations and 1000 acres of land. The port is located approximately 12 miles south of US Highway 90 from the Town of Baldwin. The port is located on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and has rail service available connecting to the Class 1 lines in Baldwin. The port has more than 600 acres of property for lease and will build to suit.


The second site is the Charenton Canal Industrial Park that offers 70 acres of developable property for lease. The site has a bulkheaded loading/unloading slip and platform with utilities available. The industrial park site is located at the Baldwin exit on Highway 90. The Charenton Canal connects to the GIWW. There is a rail transfer area nearby.


The third site has 15 acres and a 90,000 sq. ft. building for manufacturing. There is direct access to the barge canal and rail transfer station nearby.


There is a municipal airport in Patterson, LA, center of the parish. The Wedell Williams Memorial Airport offers instrument landing on a 5,500 L.F. runway capable of landing jets up to 737’s. The airport serves as a certified industrial site with 100 acres available with office and warehouse space for lease.

Ready to see what St. Mary Parish has to offer?

Our versatile toolset of economic and industry information below can help get you started.

9 Steps to Starting Your Business

Like the people who start them, businesses are as varied as a small hobby with occasional sales to a multi-million dollar concern with hundreds of employees. 

The business landscape of St. Mary Parish is largely made up of persons, maybe just like you, who had the courage and the will to give it a go.  Most of those who succeed learned that it takes work, planning and perseverance to succeed. This short guide gives you an outline of some of the components of getting your business started. It is not intended to cover everything you may ever encounter but is based on experience and a few rules all businesses typically need to follow.

1. Refine exactly what you intend to do or sell.

This may sound obvious but it is very common for a new business owner to start with one idea but wind up modifying that idea or changing it completely. By refining we mean go beyond it being just something that you like or want to do to really taking a look at whether there is a market or customers sufficient to make it work.

2. Write it down in a formal business plan.

The business plan is more about the process than the result. Sure you may need to share your business plan with a banker or investor at some time, but the greatest benefit is from challenging what you think you know with what is real through the formal analysis of a business plan. It takes work but once complete, one of three things will happen: you will affirm that your idea is viable and worth pursuing, you adapt or even change your business idea after examining it closer or, you will realize that starting a business just isn’t for you.


One key thing about your business plan, write it yourself. Hiring someone just makes them more knowledgeable about your business, but not you.

3. Choose a name and register it with the Louisiana Secretary of State

This is done at the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website at What you are looking for are any businesses in the state of Louisiana that have the name you intend to use. The information is useful to keep you from naming your business something that is already being used and that probably is copyrighted.  Whether you can use a name is not part of this guide so consult your attorney or other professional advice to make sure.


Once you’ve chosen your name, complete the name reservation form at, pay the fee and follow the instructions.

4. Order a “Create A Business License Checklist” with the Louisiana Secretary of State.

This free service will ask you a few basic questions and then send you a list of the business licenses and permits required. Of course this is just a start and there may be other credentials or licenses or permits required. You can access this service by creating an account at

5. Determine the type of business you will operate as.

Businesses are either sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies or corporations. Each of these are designations of the Internal Revenue Service and impact things like how you get to take money out of the company, how you are taxed and what type of reporting is required of you. These are all serious considerations and it is typically a good idea to speak to a CPA when making these decisions.


Once you’ve decided, you will need to apply to the IRS for an employee identification number or EIN. This will become the tax number you will use for everything to setting up payroll to opening a bank account. If you are a sole proprietor, typically you use your social security number.


These are all important decisions with impact on a lot of areas so seek professional advice when choosing.

6. Officially register your business with the Louisiana Secretary of State

Once you have determined the type of business, and if necessary, acquired an EIN, you will need to officially register with the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is the official keeper of business information and needs certain information that you provide at

7. Create accounting records

Whether you are keeping track for you own benefit or whether you have to calculate and report income and expense, it is strongly advised that you do that using a formal accounting system. Software like Quickbooks and other similar software makes this a fairly straight-forward process although keeping good records is a discipline that should be carefully adhered to.

8. Create a brand and logo

Just as people call you by name, they need to call your business by name as well. This means creating a brand and logo that can be recognized. The name is easy as at this point you have registered your name with the Secretary of State. The brand should be either text or an icon or symbol that can be used as your identity. Simple is typically better and you may need to seek the services of a graphic designer or advertising agency to get this properly done.

9. Create a website

Whether you intend to sell online or not, you must have a website in today’s market. Today the vast number of inquires will come to you through the web and you must be ready to share information like location, services, hours of operation and more. Websites can be very simple or very complex depending on what you need to get done. As with the logo you may need to enlist the help of professionals although many do-it-yourself options are available.


When creating a website, you will also need to acquire an internet domain or URL.  This will be your address on the web. The rule is to make it as simple, clear and guess-able as possible. Keep in mind that many persons will access your web from a mobile device so the easier it is to type in on a small screen, the better.


So that’s a start. There will be many other needs challenges as you go, but starting with a firm foundation will take you far. All the best and please let us know how we can help you in your success in St. Mary Parish

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