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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 Free 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. Learn more about our site selection services.

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. Learn more about the incentives and tax credits available to your business.

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. Discover our workforce development services.

Access to Business Leadership

We can facilitate introductions to key business and governmental leaders and organizations that can help local companies succeed. Find out how we can strengthen your business connections.

Regulatory Navigation

We can help guide companies through the process of obtaining permits and meeting any applicable regulations. Discover how our services can help you with permits and 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

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.

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:

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


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


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


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


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.