Phillip Moore Letter to the Editor on Economic Development Session
Members of Leadership Tangipahoa experience so much in our one day a month sessions it’s extremely difficult to write about it in the space allowed for a letter to the editor. There is so much more I could have included.
The bus for the day was provided by The First Baptist Church in Kentwood. Thank you for allowing Leadership Tangipahoa to use the bus. It was a cold and rainy day and the heater really works well. Thanks to Tom Tolar for his time and knowledge.
We met at the Southeast Louisiana Business Center, 1514 Martens Drive, Hammond. SLBC is a great resource for anyone wishing to start a business. If you have questions this would be a great place to start. Their staff is friendly and knowledgeable.
First stop was Kentwood City Hall to meet Mayor Harold Smith. Things in the works for Kentwood are a new recreational facility and a Tourist Center. Kentwood is approximately four miles from the state line and a perfect place to welcome visitors and promote Tangipahoa.
Back on the bus we headed to Kentwood Water facility. My first impression during our tour was how clean it is. We’ve all heard the proverbial quote “it’s so clean you could eat off the floor”. This bottling facility is that clean. Kentwood Water comes from an aquifer 800 feet down and is extremely pure and checked in their lab frequently. I would like to thank Mr. John Choleva, Production Manager, for taking time out of his day to give Leadership Tangipahoa a tour of their facility, Thanks John.
Next stop Smitty’s Supply Incorporated the home of Super S lubricants. I have seen their products on shelves before and never realized it was manufactured in Tangipahoa. Smitty’s Supply is a complete operation. Smitty’s makes their product containers in house producing three point two ounce to five gallon plastic containers. Not only does Smitty’s produce their own line of products they bottle and or distribute for national brands as well. Super S products are distributed domestically and internationally. From meager beginnings selling out the back of a van to the facility they have today Smitty’s Supply Incorporated has become a multimillion dollar operation. Thanks to Raymond Cutrer for an informed presentation.
Unfortunately our agenda limited the sites we could tour. Other commerce operating in the northern part of the parish were pointed out and discussed. Some of these are Mountain Brook Water, Magnolia Springs Water, Kentwood Brick and Tile, and Amite Foundry. Forestry has been a part of the northern Tangipahoa for many years and is still ongoing. Another industry discussed was dairy farming. The implementation of Federal regulations has negatively affected this industry. Louisiana now imports sixty percent of its milk. Tangipahoa has the components to create a self sustaining dairy operation. Land, feed and cattle are all here. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together will take someone with vision and a great deal of intestinal fortitude.
The rain and cold temperatures have been hard on our farmers but our tour guide at Liuzza Farms, Elizabeth Liuzza, was cheerful and smiling. After listening to Elizabeth’s presentation I appreciate farmers a whole lot more. The next time you’re in the grocery store buying fresh produce pray for a farmer.
Leadership Tangipahoa also received very informative presentations from the Economic Development Panel (Stacey Neal, Bob Basford), Entergy (Sam Richardson), LTC Workforce Training (Stephanie Badeux), Louisiana Workforce Commission (Dot Lavigne), Stirling Properties (James E. Maurin, Chairman) and the Army National Guard (Major John Plunkett).
One thing that stood out when listening to people today is they all said I could not do it alone, it’s a team effort or we did it. One of the people I spoke to described how they agreed to a high dollar business deal on a handshake. How many people can say they trust someone that much today? Before contracts and legalese a handshake was all we had. Keeping your word was the honorable thing and ones reputation was everything.
This type of character in people is seldom seen watching the news. It is seldom seen moving around in our daily lives. I am glad to say during the day of our tour I saw cooperation between people from differing backgrounds, real compassion in a corporation, strong work ethics, respect for others, and humility.
I moved to Hammond in June of 2004. Leadership Tangipahoa has allowed me to get to know the people of Tangipahoa Parish. It’s a great place to live and I’m here to stay.
Phillip R. Moore