"Our biggest competition is not Texas or Arkansas," said Kurt Foreman, President of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP). "It's being considered at all. People don't generally look at this area first to locate their business."
Foreman represented NLEP as he spoke to the Webster Parish Police Jury at the jury's regularly scheduled meeting this month.
He told the jurors and other present community members what NLEP has done for the area and what they are hoping to do in the future.
"We are called a partnership for a reason," Foreman told the jury. "We're not just called that because we like the name. We truly strive to be a partner."
According to Foreman, NLEP has assisted in creating roughly 3,500 jobs and gaining roughly one billion dollars in investments in 14 parishes in the region.
Foreman said NLEP works as a marketing agent for the parishes and has worked with organizations in Webster Parish, such as the South Webster Industrial District.
In working with a parish, company or organization, NLEP releases stories to local media about accomplishments and any other marketable information that will assist in economic growth.
Foreman said NLEP doesn't claim to partner with projects they didn't have a hand in.
"If we didn't work on it, we don't jump in front of the parade and say 'Look what we did'," he said. "We celebrate the accomplishment with the company, but we don't take credit."
Foremen said NLEP wants to continue to market and grow area businesses and focus on rural areas as much as metro areas. He also added another important task NLEP wants to undertake.
"We want to support innovation. There are companies that are coming out of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and Louisiana Tech that are being started by area entrepreneurs that end up in other states because there's not enough early stage capital to raise funds to start the company," Foreman said. "We'd like to see more of those jobs go to people in this area."
In order to continue being an area partner, NLEP needs $1.6 million this year from pledges. According to Foreman, seven percent of NLEP's funding comes from the private sector and more than 30 percent comes from the public sector, like organizations such as the WPPJ.
Foreman asked the jury to consider becoming a partner with NLEP.
"It's a little like church," he said. "If we all put in, something good comes out."
Some of the police jurors agreed that a partnership with NLEP would be good for the area.
"What you're doing is what's good for our parish," said Charlie Walker, WPPJ president. "We need to do everything we can to make our parish grow."
Walker and the other jurors agreed to discuss adding support in the form of funds once NLEP submits the proper paper work. Those in favor or not in favor of supporting the NLEP are encouraged to contact their representing police juror.