EDC keeps Orange growing

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2019

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is more than site selectors, corporate contacts and financial assistance concerning incentives that may be available at the local, state and federal levels, it is also about the creation and retention of jobs.

With an annual budget based on sales tax revenue, it uses .5-percent sales tax, which is restricted for the purpose of economic development.

An example of working with a business to locate in the city of Orange is the Motion of Intent the City of Orange Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors passed in 2018.

The Motion of Intent is to expend funds not to exceed $200,000 for infrastructure improvements at the new Boardwalk Grille at the Riverfront Boardwalk near 5th Street and Division Avenue.

Owner, Jake LeMoine will open a 3,000 square foot restaurant with a 2,000 square foot outdoor patio area, and construction is scheduled to begin in April 2019 and the project should be completed within six to eight months.

At the time, there was a question on who would pay the taxes on the property as Boardwalk Grille is leasing the land from the city.

During the July 10, 2018 meeting, Trahan stated based on his research the Orange EDC will maintain ownership of the tax-exempt land tract however the owner of the Boardwalk Grille would be responsible for paying taxes.

“It will be built behind the Stark building, across the street from its current location,” Economic Development Corporation Director Jay Trahan said. “It should have a groundbreaking in April, weather permitting.”

Chick-fil-A is expecting to break ground in late summer, early fall of this year.

“It is a $1.5 million investment,” Trahan said. “Three additional projects will go on the site with a total investment of $4.5 million.”

Trahan added with the demolition of the Quick Stop at that location would allow for four projects at the site.

“The completion of the construction of 15th Street comes first,” Trahan said.

Along with new businesses, creates the need for more housing.

Cypresswood Village has begun clearing land for the project, which will have 40 lots at $225,000 each and totaling $9 million.

“Work on the infrastructure for storm drainage has begun,” Trahan said.

Dow Dupont, a $100million investment, is currently working on due diligence for its project.

For Arlanxeo, it has had a total investment of $19 million and retained 289 jobs. The project application was approved on May 28, 2018.

The EDC also supported International Paper for it’s $50 million capital investment and is currently under review for an application for the state’s Enterprise Zone.

The EDC does more than assist in retaining and creating jobs in the city but also targets tourism as well.

Through funding from the Hotel Occupancy Tax, the city has scheduled events for almost every month of the year in 2019. Still, upcoming events are Art in the Park and Jet Ski Racing in April followed by DSRA Drag Boat Racing in May.

A three-day Juneteenth Celebration is scheduled for the weekend of June 15 and a July 4 concert and fireworks on July 4.

Other events in the planning stages are Gumbo Cookoff and the Kiwanis Christmas Parade.

With an increase in jobs, creates an increase in sales tax revenue for the city.

Those employees then spend money on gas, food, restaurants, and more, thus increasing the sales tax revenue even more.

Add in people moving to the area and needing housing, thus adding to the rooftops increases property tax revenue.

“With the half-percent sales tax, the city can move forward with specifics to a project,” Trahan said. “Capital investment and employee retention are just part of the equation. Increased sales tax revenue is an indirect effect.”