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St Mary Parish Business Development Services

Welcome to St. Mary Parish! Located in the heart of South Louisiana, we offer a unique environment that is the ideal place to live, work, and play. Our business-friendly environment offers some of the lowest costs to do business, regardless of if you’re looking to start, expand, or relocate your business. In St. Mary Parish you will find low taxes, low utility rates, competitive wages, and robust incentives that are supported by a regional educational infrastructure that ensures as your workforce needs evolve so do the quality of your employees. In terms of accessibility, St. Mary Parish is the differentiator in the Gulf Coast region, providing easy access to interstate, rail, ports, and airports—both within and outside of our boundaries.

Innovation, reinvention, creativity, and ambition are born in St. Mary Parish. Most of the major economic drivers were founded, and continue to operate, right here, including Oceaneering, Swiftships and Conrad Industries. Rich in natural resources, St. Mary Parish offers sport fishing, birding, nature trails, and wildlife habitat for your enjoyment, while successfully supporting a diverse industrial base and high quality of living.

Explore Our Business Development Services

St. Mary Parish Economic Development (SMED) provides a range of services to ensure that our businesses and residents know that SMED is a committed partner in the creation and retention of businesses in the region. We are proud of the deep community, regional, and private partnerships that we coordinate our services through. Services provided include:

Site Selection

We can assist in making site selection decisions and also provide
logistical support and hosting for company site visits.

Incentives & Programs

We can assist in identifying available business and tax incentives and help guide companies through the incentive process on both local and state levels.

Customized Market Research

We provide valuable research data related to the region, labor, education, real estate, and more.

Workforce Development

We can connect companies with the talented employees needed to create, expand, or maintain a successful business.

Access to Business Leadership

We can facilitate introductions to key business and governmental leaders and organizations that can help local companies succeed.

Regulatory Navigation

We can help guide companies through the process of obtaining permits and meeting any applicable regulations.

Retention & Expansion

Our Commitment to St. Mary’s Businesses

Over 60% of all estimated new jobs are created by existing businesses in St. Mary Parish, and we understand that supporting those businesses is essential to our future economic success.

In St. Mary Parish, our Business Retention & Expansion Program is a critical tool in our overall economic development toolkit. We focus on listening to you: your wins, challenges, and plans to determine the best plan for your business to continuously grow and be competitive.

Through our active collaboration within the business community, St. Mary Parish Economic Development offers an engaged, productive partnership to growing businesses, capital investment, and employment opportunities in St. Mary Parish.

What We Do

1. Face-to-Face visits to your business to hear from you. The information collected at these in confidential, in person meetings provide valuable insight about your company’s background, products, services, and employees.

2. Dedicating time to understand your business objectives, successes, and challenges.

3. Develop a custom, outcome-oriented plan of action with you and identify potential resources and additional partners that can support your efforts to achieve your goals. St. Mary Economic Development will be with you throughout the entire project, ensuring its success.

4. A follow-up plan is created to ensure frequent communication is maintained so that a long-term partnership is created with the business community.

What We Want to Learn

1. Are you planning to begin construction or purchase new equipment?

2. Do you have financing needs for your project to enable your business
growth?

3. Are there obstacles such as infrastructure, utility, or technical issues
prohibiting your growth?

4. Are there obstacles to building a trained and qualified workforce?

We Offer Free Business Development Tools

1. Assist in identifying state and local incentive programs that are available to companies for job creation and expansion.

2. Explore workforce training opportunities.

3. Provide businesses with key data that can aid their decision-making process prior to making an investment, such as cost of labor, availability of labor, demographics, retail market reports.

4. Perform site location assistance.

Workforce Development

Quality Workforce

When it comes to providing a skilled workforce.  Louisiana is home to the nation’s top workforce developement program under LED FastStart, which provides businesses customized resources for recruitment, screening, and training.

In St. Mary Parish, we prioritizing succes through three values: education, commitment, and hard work.  Our local workforce and our partner organizations ensure that these values are communicated to both the current and future workforrce.  You will find an eager and capable workforce in St. Mary Parish that will meet the demands for your business growth.

We are at the ready to assist you in finding the people you need to acheive your goals.

Let Us Help Your Business

St. Mary Parish’s Labor Force

Resources for Business

Supporting the Success of Your Business

Through collaboration with local, regional, and statewide partners, we aim to provide an environment for business owners throughout St. Mary Parish to work together and succeed. Creating a business plan, registration support, assistance in tax and insurance issues, and obtaining the necessary licenses and permits can at first seem overwhelming; however, St. Mary Economic Development is your one-stop shop to provide you with the tools you need— at no cost to you:

Additional Resources

The backbone of St. Mary Parish is the energy and spirit of our entrepreneurs, and we priortize the success of those businesses through growing your business and expanding your network.  Resources that are provided through our friends throughout our region include:

Sites & Buildings

Location, Location, Location

When considering an expansion or relocation, we will help you navigate the site selection process to find the best location for your business. In today’s economy, locating a site is inundated with challenges, as a committed partner, St. Mary Economic Development is ready to assist your company in finding the site that fits your needs through strong local and regional partnerships, experience, and a toolkit of site location resources. Whether you’re looking to build from ground up, move into an existing building, lease, or buy, when you are ready to find your next business location, St. Mary Economic Development will be ready to help.

Legends will include:
  • Include all municipalities
  • Include ports
  • Interstates
  • Railroads
  • Waterways
Proximity to St. Mary Parish
  • Rail systems
  • Airports
  • Other coastal ports
  • Inland ports

Transportation Info on the Ports

Site Development for a Competitive St. Mary

In St. Mary Parish, we are fortunate to have a plethora of land that is ideal for putting our community on a competitive footing. The site development program is designed to establish a portfolio of marketable, development-ready sites by certifying land within our parish. This was achieved through partnership between St. Mary Parish Economic Development, St. Mary Parish Government, landowners, utility providers, and our regional economic development partners such as One Acadiana and South Louisiana Economic Council (SLEC).

What is a Certified Site?

A Louisiana Economic Development Certified Site is a development-ready site that has completed a rigorous review process to answer as many development questions as possible. The program is designed to assess specific site details for compliance and authenticity. All certified sites are 180-day development ready, offering the additional advantage of ensuring that the client’s construction is more likely to remain on schedule.

Louisiana Economic Development’s Certified Industrial Site Program focuses on sites intended for industrial or manufacturing uses. To qualify for the industrial site program, sites must have a minimum of 25 contiguous, unencumbered acres available for development.

Louisiana Economic Development’s Certified Business Site Program targets sites best suited for business parks, mixed use developments, or Planned Unit Developments (PUD). Sites qualifying for this program will have between 10 and 25 contiguous, unencumbered acres available for development.

Extensive Review Process
  • Zoning restrictions
  • Title work
  • Environmental studies
  • Soil analysis
  • Surveys
Advantages of a Certified Site

1. Development ready

2. Substantial due diligence completed

3. Significant site information gathered and documented

4. Independent third-party engineering review

5. Uncertainty and potential obstacles eliminated through enhanced site knowledge

6. More competitive

7. Greater marketability

8. Granted priority in site proposal

The due diligence performed during the certified sites process delivers a property with minimal uncertainty through enhanced site knowledge. This allows St. Mary Economic Development to present more competitive, marketable sites to potential companies during the business development process.

Cost Benefits of Certification
  • 75% of engineering costs reimbursed by the state.
  • 25% of remaining cost is shared between One Acadiana, local partner, and landowner.
  • Increased exposure of sites both nationally and internationally through regional and state business development efforts.

Small and Minority Business Services

Business Assistance

To achieve a successful, vibrant parish, it is essential for diverse small-business ownership. St. Mary Economic Development is committed to increasing and sustaining St. Mary Parish’s competitive entrepreneurial environment by supporting the growth of small and minority-owned businesses. 

In partnership with local community partners, the St. Mary Parish Chamber, Lafayette’s Opportunity Machine, the Bayou Business Incubator, and the Louisiana Economic Development Department’s Small Business Division, we offer one-on-one counseling, direct services, and referrals to provide owners the assistance necessary to start, manage, and grow their business. 

A snapshot of the free business development services St. Mary Economic Development provides are:

Business Formation and Registration

St. Mary Economic Development Provides: 

  • Information on navigating the state and local business registration process for new businesses
  • Assistance with developing operating and partnership agreements

Partners Include: 

  • CPAs and accounting firms for sales and employment tax account setup and bookkeeping
  • Legal professionals for further assistance with partnership agreements, contracts, patents, and trademarks
Business Plans and Models

St. Mary Economic Development Provides:

  • Guidance on developing business plans using Small Business Administration (SBA) standards

Partners Include:

  • Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LSBDC) for revisions to business plans
  • Opportunity Machine (OM) and the Bayou Business Incubator (BRI) for help structuring the appropriate business model
Certifications & Government Contract Assistance

St. Mary Economic Development Provides:

  • Assistance with obtaining various certifications, including:
    • DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise)
    • MBE (Minority Business Enterprise)
    • Small & Emerging Business Certification
    • Hudson Initiative
  • Assistance in creating Statements of Capability and other documentation needed to obtain procurement opportunities

Partners Include:

  • Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (LAPTAC) for further technical assistance with government contracting

Key Industries

Manufacturing

Few areas compare to St. Mary Parish when it comes to manufacturing and metal work capabilities. The manufacturing operations located within St. Mary—and throughout the South-Central region—take advantage of the variety of logistics infrastructure to transport their materials or products by air, rail, and port around the world daily. Major manufacturing investments in St. Mary Parish include: Metal Shark, New Industries, and Conrad.

Bold Incentives

The manufacturing industry is a significant member of our community, and St. Mary Parish values the commitment the industry has made to our parish. In return, we will align state and local resources to provide customized incentive packages for businesses looking to grow. The standard, common incentives are outlined below. Look here to find a full list of standard incentives. (Insert hyperlink “here” to full list). 

  • Industrial Tax Exemption Program 
  • Quality Jobs Rebate 
  • Payments In Lieu of Taxes
  • Industrial Development Bonds
Quality Workforce

Louisiana, a right-to-work state for over 30 years, ranks in the Top 10 for the lowest rates of private workforce unionization. The state is also home to LED FastStart, the nation’s top-ranked workforce development program for nine consecutive years, providing customized workforce recruitment, screening, and training toolkits for employers. With a robust regional labor force of about 400,000 workers, competitive wages, and a strong talent pipeline from the education system, St. Mary Parish offers access to a skilled workforce ready to meet hiring needs.

The parish’s location near three major universities and two community colleges allows employers to directly coordinate with these academic institutions to leverage their specialized programs and research expertise related to the manufacturing industry. The proximity also facilitates recruiting graduates with relevant skills, as well as arranging specific workforce training to ensure both current and future employees are equipped with the capabilities to match the business requirements.

  • National Center for Advanced Manufacturing (NACM)
  • Nicholls State University
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette
  • Louisiana State University
  • Fletcher Technical Community College
  • South Louisiana Community College (SLCC) –Young Memorial Campus, Franklin Campus, and Lafayette Campus

In St. Mary Parish you will find a prime location for your business. A logistical hub, the parish is located right through Interstate I-10 South and the future I-49 South. It provides access to 38 interior states via the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway as well as countless international markets via the Gulf of Mexico. Within St. Mary Parish alone are: TWO coastal ports, TWO Class I rail systems, and within 60 miles of TWO commercial airports. 

Key Industries

Agribusiness

Plant Your Roots in St. Mary Parish

Agriculture is as central to the economic base of St. Mary Parish as it is to our rich history. With more than one million acres under production, St. Mary Parish offers the infrastructure and support necessary for successful operations. Adding to the agricultural base of St. Mary, we offer acres of both natural and man-made aquaculture that produces a significant percentage of the overall seafood industry Louisiana is nationally, and internationally, known for. This is evident through the presence of major food manufacturers located throughout South Louisiana. Looking to plant, harvest, or grow your agribusiness? St. Mary Parish is the place for you. 

Quality Workforce

Louisiana, a right-to-work state for over 30 years, ranks in the Top 10 for the lowest rates of private workforce unionization. Additionally, Louisiana is home to LED FastStart (insert hyperlink), the nation’s top state workforce development program for nine consecutive years, which creates a customized workforce recruitment, screening, and training toolkit. With a growing regional labor force of nearly 400,000, competitive wages, and a strong education pipeline, St. Mary Parish’s workforce is waiting for you. With close proximity to three major universities, and two community college campuses within our parish borders, you will have access to the specific programs and research strengths related to the manufacturing industry and graduate new engineers each semester as well as ensuring your current and future workforce will have specific training to fit your specific needs. Beyond public investments in agriculture and aquaculture, St. Mary Parish has a strong presence of manufacturing operations, contributing to the growing need of skilled workers. 

Through the presence of Louisiana State University’s 20 Agriculture Centers across the state, the vital and necessary research is available at your fingertips for agricultural enterprises to succeed. Known for their high quality of research, the LSU AgCenter has one of the most active intellectual property programs in the country and ranks among the top universities when measuring return on investment dollar. To date, more than 50 scientists with the LSU AgCenter have received patents or plant variety protection certificates. 

Bold Incentives

In St. Mary we value our agribusiness industry and will align state and local resources to provide customized incentive packages for businesses looking to grow. One standard incentive, the Quality Jobs program, provides a cash rebate to companies that create well-paid jobs. 

St. Mary Economic Development understands that a company’s ability to ramp up quickly and efficiently is a significant factor in its location decision. Louisiana’s expedited environmental permit-processing program enables it to issue permits more quickly and efficiently than just about any other state in the country. 

Key Industries

Maritime

Propelling Your Business to Success

Possibly one of the largest industry clusters in St. Mary Parish is our marine operations such as ship building, fabrication, and extensive grocery and janitorial services. Regardless of what service line they’re in, these companies choose St. Mary Parish for our South-Central Louisiana location, business-friendly climate, and variety of transportation options.  They include: MetalShark, Conrad, and GulfCraft.

Key Industries

Energy

Leading the Industry

America’s Energy Corridor, also known as Highway 90, runs right through St. Mary Parish and is dominated by hundreds of companies supporting the oil and gas sector. Over 80 percent of offshore oil rigs are located off the coast, offering a tremendous opportunity for companies manufacturing products or delivering services to the energy industry. 

Similarly, as with agricultural, the history of St. Mary Parish is deeply tied to the energy sector. As the attention towards renewable energy gains steam, St. Mary Economic Development is poised to take full advantage of the growing opportunities in offshore wind and solar energy, both in terms of workforce and manufacturing. 

Significant investments in St. Mary Parish include: Oceaneering and Cameron.