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|Official outlines economic plans|
Stephen Moret, the Louisiana Secretary of Economic Development, said the Franklin Farms Megasite in neighboring Richland Parish is positioned as the number one new industrial site in the state, and is poised to bring in an automobile manufacturer. He said an industry of that caliber would bring thousands of high-paying jobs to Northeast Louisiana.
Moret was the guest speaker at the Franklin Economic Development Foundation annual meeting on Wednesday. He said over the next 18 to 24 months his office – with the full backing of Gov. Bobby Jindal – will focus on seven measures to, "Do nothing less than reposition Louisiana as the next great American state."
The first step will be improving the state's competitiveness, "making our state attractive to do business in," Moret said. This will include revising the business tax structure, transportation and infrastructure improvements and workforce development reform. On that topic, Moret said big changes in workforce development would be announced in the near future.
"A new plan is coming that is comprehensive and is going to get the job done," Moret said to the gathering of business people, local and state officials.
The second step will be to improve community competitiveness. This means giving communities the support they need to strategically market themselves, much like the work of the Franklin Economic Development Foundation.
"It is critical that we have strong local economic development," Moret said.
The third phase is to recognize and promote the different economic regions of the state. He pointed out that a business which is well-suited for the southern part of the state may not be the right fit for the Northeast Louisiana region.
"We're going to cultivate economic development in each part of the state," Moret said. "In your region it is the Franklin Farms Megasite."
Improving business retention and expansion is the fourth point, which Moret said is essential because a strong economic base is necessary for growth.
"The overwhelming majority of our jobs are going to come from businesses here today," he said.
Moret's office will help existing businesses with tax and employee incentives, especially in the more economically de-pressed areas of the state.
Fifth is business recruitment, with the specialized use of technology. Moret said state websites would be packed with information online that businesses want to see when considering moving to the state."We're focusing recruiting on targets that make sense for the region," Moret said.
The sixth step addresses "cultivating small businesses and entrepreneurs."
"Ninety-percent of one-half of the total (state) workforce is in small businesses," he said. "I don't want to sound cliché, but all big businesses started out as small businesses."
Finally, the seventh step is "to tell our story," spreading the message that Louisiana is reformed and ready to do business bigger and better than ever before.
"We are in an economic renaissance. We're making significant changes, making this a better place to do business and we really want to tell the story to the nation," Moret said.
In closing, Moret emphasized that Franklin Parish and Northeast Louisiana is a vital part of the state's economic rebirth, and the people here will see the results of this project in the near future.
Foundation names board members
The 2008 board members for the Franklin Economic Foundation were elected at the annual meeting. They include Craig Gill of Gill First National Funeral Home, Shannon Lockard of Citizens Progressive Bank, Paul Price Jr., of Jackson Street Guest House, Barry Stevens of Progressive Bank, Boyce Stone of Franklin Cotton Warehouse, Darrell Teats of The Teats Group LLC, Bill Walker of Franklin State Bank, Cloid White of White Ford-Lincoln Mercury, Scott Wiggers of Franklin Parish Farm Bureau, Mike Woods of Winnsboro State Bank and Leslie Young.
Ex-officio board members are Larry Clark, treasurer of the Franklin Parish Police Jury, Winnsboro Mayor Jack Hammons and 2008 Winnsboro-Franklin Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Cobb.
Kay LaFrance-Knight is the executive director and Jane Clark is the executive secretary.
of the foundation.