Cedars: Government Must Invest in Infrastructure to Attract, Keep Businesses
Construction continues at SafeSource's new nitrile plant off U. S. 90, while renovations at their planned corporate headquarters off St. Nezaire Road continues. Those facilities in Broussard are expected to bring around 2,200 jobs to the city and, with them, tax and other revenues.
While that’s good news for the area, St. Martin Parish President Chester Cedars says he and his fellow Acadiana leaders need to capitalize on this opportunity.
“We as local leaders, we have a challenge now," Cedars during Monday's media event announcing the SafeSource projects. "We’ve got this facility. Now, we can’t screw it up! We gotta make sure the people that it attracts for leadership, for the jobs, we have to give them quality services in return so they will be excited about being here.”
According to Cedars, meeting that challenge will take a multifaceted approach from local government.
“The job and the objective of the facility is going to take people to execute," Cedars told KPEL after the media event. "We in local government have to make sure that we provide that workforce with a quality way of living. When you’re dealing with a rural-type area, you’ve got to make sure you have proper water, proper sewerage, roads, infrastructure, broadband services that’s going to aid residences as well as businesses, and schools. We have to pay attention to what people expect from their leaders—their local leaders—in this day and age."
Cedars says there’s no need to raise taxes to accomplish these goals. Rather, he says government can accomplish all of this by properly investing federal dollars and revenues created by the plants.
"What I was also referencing was the fact that from the American Rescue Plan and from other federal legislation, we're going to have the opportunity to receive a substantial amount of money," Cedars said. "We have to be wise in how we invest that money. And that’s why I suggest we look outside the box. We look with vision as to how we structure that plan to expend that money so it’s not a one-time shot—so that we create a system where it’s going to be self-sustaining where it’s going to continue to attract people and, more importantly, so it can keep our best minds right here in Acadiana."
Cedars plan of investing federal American Rescue Plan Act money as a way of building local infrastructure. That plan could be undone if Attorney General Jeff Landry gets his way. Landry is joining Mississippi and Texas in a lawsuit that seeks to undo that law. The suit claims the $1.9 trillion plan is unconstitutional. The three states are seeking an injunction to prevent federal officials from applying the law’s tax mandate against states.
Governor John Bel Edwards says another way local government can help itself in this mission is to partner with the Department of Economic Development.
"My suggestion to local government is to develop as many certified sites as possible in advance so that inventory is there, we know about it, and we can match up prospective investors once those sites come online," Edwards told KPEL.
Edwards credited the Broussard City Government and other local agencies for working with the Department of Economic Development for certifying the two cites that SafeSource picked. That, Edwards says, allowed state officials to point SafeSource to those locations as soon as the company was ready to proceed with its plans.