ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
LEDD has worked diligently since September 2020 to bring internet speeds of 100/100 to all residents and businesses of the parish at affordable prices. Massive changes in the availability of this infrastructure should occur over the next 1-6 years through programs such as RDOF and GUMBO. LEDD has worked closely with the Louisiana Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity, Segnem Egere/Cable South/Swyft Fiber and Conexon Connect to ensure these changes occur.
Certified Industrial Sites
Under the leadership of LEDD, the parish has acquired state certification of two industrial sites. One site is owned by LEDD and is located on Highway 8 adjacent to the Jena Airport. The second site is owned by the Town of Olla and is located on Highway 125. Both are listed on appropriate websites for discovery by site selectors.
LEDD oversees the management and maintenance of the Jena Airport located on Highway 8. Currently the airport has a 4,901 foot runway and has nine single engine aircraft based on the field.
Louisiana Central (louisiana-central.com) spearheads industrial recruitment through their relationships with site selectors for the parishes in central Louisiana. LEDD serves as the central point of contact for these projects and has played an active role in recruiting companies to LaSalle Parish such as LaSalle Lumber, Drax, UPS Midstream, The GEO Group, Wal-Mart and Garan.
CLTCC Rod Brady Campus- Nursing Program ($30,000)
LEDD joined other corporate sponsors including Hardtner Medical Center, LaSalle Nursing Home and Autumn Leaves Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to financially support a second nursing cohort at our local campus of CLTCC for a total contribution of $110,000.
Parish Branding Project
With the assistance of the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) in Baton Rouge, LEDD embarked on a branding project that provided official logos to the Town of Olla, Urania, Tullos, Police Jury, School System, Sheriff’s Office, Assessor’s Office, Clerk of Court, Registrar’s Office, District Judge and LEDD. This graphics package helped to create a uniform professional image for entities in the parish while keeping the tagline Where Pine Grows and Oil Flows. The investment in the parish branding project emerged from the branding project initiated by the Town of Jena as part of The Jena Vision, a 20-year strategic plan that was created under the administration of Mayor Murphy McMillin.
2018 Mini – Grant Program ($100,000)
Mini-grants were provided to each of the four towns in LaSalle Parish ranging from $6,000 - $52,000 to implement the economic and community development projects of their choice. The amount of the award was distributed based on population.
ACT WorkReady Communities
As part of a multi-state partnership with Louisiana Central, LEDD provided the leadership to implement the WorkKeys program. The WorkKeys test provides a tool to assist in selecting and advancing employees that helps to ensure less employee turnover. This results in greater efficiency in time and financial management for local companies. Partners in this effort include LaSalle Parish School System, CLTCC, Rod Brady Campus, the local Workforce Development Office and local employers utilizing the WorkKeys program.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
A Greater LaSalle
The first A Greater LaSalle Luncheon was held in March 2015 with the theme, Regionalism Starts at Home. Local elected officials joined the LEDD Board members for a luncheon discussion of joining forces to promote economic development in a unified manner—one that represents all of LaSalle Parish residents and businesses. This annual luncheon continues to grow in size and spirit and became the platform in which all the rural broadband discussion were held in 2021.
The idea of A Greater LaSalle has grown from a governmental luncheon into part of the mission of LEDD, Striving forA Greater LaSalle! A logo representing A Greater LaSalle was created and adopted in April 2021.
In 2012, LEDD embarked on grant funded projects aimed at improving the health and well-being of its citizens. Projects were designed to assist in changing the culture and environment of local public parks. Investments were made in park infrastructure owned and operated by the Town of Jena, Olla, Urania and Tullos. Park improvements were also made on police jury property including Ward 10 Park and Recreation District No. 22. New park facilities were built at the tribal center of the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians. Grant funds provided for walking trails, fitness equipment, restrooms, basketball courts, shade coverings, park lighting ,a splash pad and an outdoor kitchen. Farmers market facilities were built or improved in the Town of Olla, Tullos and Jena. A highly successful Summer Day Camp program for youth ages 4-12 was held in six public parks in June 2017.
Grant funding was received from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Challenge Grant ($1M), known as Live Lively LaSalle!. Healthy LaSalle! and Healthy LaSalle! Phase 2 were funded in part by The Rapides Foundation ($600,000).
Currently, The Strand Village Project #thrive is underway and is funded in part by a Substance and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program Grant from The Rapides Foundation ($300,000). This project has two components: The Strengthening Families program, an 11-week fun family makeover series and an afterschool program that will provide opportunities for youth to participate in arts and technology. These afterschool programs for grades 6 -12, #thrive Arts and #thrive Tech will kick off in February 2022.
LaSalle Parish Scholars Fund
Since the establishment of this scholarship fund in 2013, approximately 400 high school graduates in LaSalle Parish have received more than $116,000 in scholarships. Currently, high school graduates with a 3.5 GPA or above receive a non-competitive $300 scholarship to the school of their choice. There are also separate accounts that provide financial assistance to CLTCC-Rod Brady campus students for tuition and educational supplies and career needs of our local special needs students are met through the Thompson/Vickers Memorial Scholarship. Donations to this fund are accepted year-round. Contributions of any size are welcomed. Checks should be made payable to the Scholars Fund and mailed to LEDD, PO Box 775, Jena, LA 71342. Donations that are made in honor or memory of family or friends will be recognized each year at the Scholars Reception.
The LaSalle Parish Scholars Reception was held for the first time in May 2012 as a partnership with The GEO Group. It provides an avenue for the presentation and celebration of local scholarships received by graduates from Jena High School and LaSalle High School collectively. This event is held during the week of graduation annually to honor both the recipients and the donors.
Lead LaSalle Leadership Program
There are 51 graduates of the local leadership development programs, Lead LaSalle and Lead LaSalle2. Classes were conducted between 2011 and 2013 in both the Jena and Olla area. This program is available pending public interest.