News Release
Release No.STELPRD4007892
ContactRD LA State Office(318) 473-7922
Alexandria, Jul 20, 2010 --

@@USDA Rural Development State Director Clarence Hawkins, announced the selection of five Rural Louisiana Regions for participation in the “Stronger Economies Together” (SET) Program. SET is a program administered in Louisiana by USDA Rural Development, in conjunction with the Southern Rural Development Center, the Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter Extension Service, the Southern University AgCenter Extension Service, and Louisiana Economic Development. The SET program is designed to help regional teams develop new approaches to strengthen and enhance regional economic development activities and is an opportunity for current or newly formed multi-parish teams to receive the latest tools, training, and technical assistance to help their regions move forward and take advantage of positive growth and quality of life opportunities.

Rural Development State Director Hawkins said, “Louisiana was one of eight states selected for participation in this national pilot project and one of only two states to have more than two applicants selected.” “We are extremely pleased to have all regions who exhibited an interest in this important program selected. We believe this recognition represents the strength of these applications and is a reflection of the commitment and interest in strengthening and enhancing existing regional economic development activities in Louisiana.”

The Louisiana Delta Coalition covers the parishes of East Carroll, Franklin, Madison, Morehouse, Richland, Tensas, West Carroll, Concordia, Catahoula, Jackson, and Ouachita. These parishes, primarily a part of the Louisiana Delta, will focus on assessing the economic climate of this area for purposes of developing an economic development plan to maximize the identified assets; assisting business and local governments in utilizing financing sources for infrastructure; stimulating the creation of private sector jobs through the attraction of industry; and in meeting the training needs of businesses in the area.

The Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana Cooperative Development Initiative based in New Roads, encompasses both Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana Parishes. This region will focus on completion of a comprehensive retail trade analysis, in order to develop strategies to attract and encourage businesses to these communities.

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Five Rural Louisiana Regions

Selected for Economic Development Technical Assistance

The Northshore Parishes Alliance comprised of St. Helena, Tangipahoa, and Washington Parishes, will focus on recruitment and/or relocation of major employers to the area; exploring the establishment of “green” industries within the region from existing resources or from those which may be readily transformed; and the development of human capital in the region to more effectively attract businesses.

The Acadiana Regional Development District covers an eight parish area of the state known as Acadiana, which includes the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, and Vermilion. The primary focus of this region involves the development of a Strategic Plan to diversify the regional economy; the education of the local workforce in new green industry technology and innovation; and the assessment of the region’s existing infrastructure.

Coordinating and Development Corporation, a Shreveport based organization, encompasses the parishes of Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Lincoln, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, and Webster in Louisiana. This region will focus on the development of sustainable strategies to maximize the positive economic impacts of the Haynesville Shale natural gas discovery; the creation of new opportunities to utilize the region’s natural resources; and in maximizing the positive economic benefits from broadband communications technology.

These regions will receive intensive strategic planning training for their regional teams; database tools specifically designed to help the regional teams examine the critical drivers of their region and identify emerging growth sectors and regional competitive advantages; technical assistance and educational support from the Southern Rural Development Center, Rural Development staff, Cooperative Extension Service, Louisiana Economic Development, and other key community/economic development organizations in the state; and other educational and information-sharing opportunities with other SET program participants around the country.

USDA Rural Development serves as the lead federal agency for rural development needs by offering financial and technical assistance to individuals, businesses and communities. USDA Rural Development programs include funding for day care centers, fire trucks and other community facility projects; the purchase, construction or repair of homes; loans and guarantees to rural businesses to save or create jobs and renewable energy; and loans and grants for water and sewer utility projects. The USDA Rural Development State Office is located at 3727 Government Street, Alexandria, Louisiana 71302, telephone (318) 473-7922. There are four area offices located throughout the state to serve Louisiana residents. Further information on USDA Rural Development’s loan and grant programs can be obtained by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at: USDA Rural Development is an equal opportunity lender, provider, and employer. Complaints of discrimination should be sent to: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Washington, DC 20250-9140.