St. Charles Parish residents can expect a boost to the local economy in 2007 as national retail outlets, two major restaurants, manufacturing and light industrial companies, and construction companies bring their business to the area.
"More and different types of jobs can be expected when these companies and businesses come to St. Charles Parish," Corey Faucheux, director of economic development and tourism for the parish tells the Herald-Guide.
Among those coming to town this year are Cato’s clothing store, two as yet unidentified grocery stores, and two major chain restaurants, including Sicily’s Italian Buffet and another to be named shortly.
With new subdivisions developing in different areas of the parish, Faucheux says the increase in the number of retail strip malls makes sense.
"The national retail businesses is normally driven by the number of rooftops in a trade area, as we get more housing in the parish their will be a small spike in the number of people moving in," Faucheux says.
Faucheux says this is an ideal situation for retail outlets looking to move into the area.
"The new shopping areas will be similar to some of the small mall like areas in LaPlace. The opening of a couple of smaller scale grocery stores is also possible," Faucheux says.
Faucheux says look for the expansion of Plantation Business Park in Destrehan, James Business Park in St. Rose and Esperanza Business Park in Luling as light industrial businesses and "good solid" construction companies move into these locations.
"Light industrial companies and some construction companies with solid job opportunities are coming soon," Faucheux says.
Faucheux tells the Herald-Guide that Hurricane Katrina revealed the parish's storm-vulnerabilities on the west bank, causing potential businesses to look for other places to locate, like the east bank area, where there is very little land vacancy.
"The west bank area of St. Charles Parish is vulnerable without the much needed levee protection and new businesses are concerned about coming into the area because of this potential hazard,” he says. “But, the largest vacant land areas are on the west bank side of the parish, the east bank does not have as much land available - so the west bank becomes more attractive again.”
Faucheux tells the Herald-Guide the high cost of construction materials needed to build new businesses, the increased rate of commercial and residential insurance also effects whether or not a company comes into the parish.
"We share the same concerns as Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines parish when it comes to new businesses moving into the area.
“We are all feeling the impacts of the aftermath of Katrina.
“I have worked on a couple of projects where some businesses are not looking to move into areas past Interstate 12," Faucheux told the Herald-Guide.
Faucheux says St. Charles Parish workers are the highest wage earners in the state of Louisiana.
‘Our workers make more than other workers in the state.
“Some of the top-paying companies in our parish are: Dow, St. Charles, Motiva, Entergy, Monsanto, Valero, Shell Chemical, and Randacor.
“Randacor, a company that manufactures accessories for men like belts, wallets, and other leather goods and distributes them world wide.
“The company employs at least 400 people and is located in James Business Park, in St. Rose.
“"The same amount of time we spend recruiting new businesses to the area we also devote to our local businesses.”