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Leadership Tangipahoa

Press Releases

Date Press Release

Bret Schnadelbach & Casie Navarre's Letter to the Editor on Economic Development Session

For Immediate Release:                                                       1/5/17
Contact:                                                                                 Jeremy Peltier

Bret Schnadelbach & Casie Navarre's Letter to the Editor on Economic Development Session

Dear Editor,

Our Leadership Tangipahoa class has been busy over the last four months with December being of no exception. The focus of our recent class was centered around Economic Development and its impact on Tangipahoa Parish and the surrounding region. Economic Development can be defined loosely as the improvement of well-being or quality of life in a society through the creation and retention of jobs by current or new businesses. This maintained or increased employment supports growing incomes and tax revenues which help to support local government and public schools. We were able to meet with Southeastern Louisiana University's Southeast Louisiana Business Center, Encore Development, Shell Robert Training Facility, and Bracy's Nursery where we learned more about Economic Development and how these businesses are helping to grow our parish.

Leaving out from the Tangipahoa Parish Tourist Commission, our first stop was Southeastern Louisiana University's Southeast Louisiana Business Center. The Business Center is an incubator for several businesses including Louisiana Small Business Development Center, Hammond Area Economic and Industrial Development District, and Tangipahoa Economic Development Foundation. We were greeted by a Leadership Tangipahoa alumni, Stacey Neal, who is currently the Executive Director of Tangipahoa Parish Economic Development Foundation, Inc. The Foundation was formed in the late 60s-early 70s to assist business development on a private level with professional support. Ms. Neal uses partnerships with local businesses, municipalities and parish government to increase economic development opportunities. Such things as available warehouse space, land for sale, and utility and public works access are used to draw in new businesses or grow current businesses in our area. She is dedicated to improving our community through her job and is quietly succeeding in this area. One of the partners helping to grow our community one business at a time is Mr. William "Bill" Joubert, the Director of Southeast Louisiana Business Center at SLU. Mr. Joubert provided our class with a description of the Business Center and the role it plays in our region. He explained that the business center provides several services to individuals or companies trying to start up or expand a business in Tangipahoa, St. Helena, Livingston, St. Tammany or Washington parishes. You can meet with Mr. Joubert or refer someone to discuss services currently offered by the Business Center such as consulting, research, planning, training, or the possibility of a business incubation. The facility prides itself as being a "one-stop-shop" for all the needs of a business owner. And not to be missed, the Business Center recently received the 2015 SBDC Excellence and Innovation Award along with several other acclamations for being a top center in the United States. As a prelude to this, the Center was awarded a state-level Excellence and Innovation Award in 2010 and in 2012 and was listed as the top center in a five-state region which included Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. This facility is a true treasure to our Parish and we all look forward to seeing the growth encouraged by the team that works there.

Across the way but not a hop, skip, and jump, we next visited Encore Development Corporation that is pioneered by the always enthusiastic Mr. Ed Hoover. Encore Development Corporation was introduced to our class by our Leadership Tangipahoa guide, Mr. Nick Gagliano, as being a true success story of business development in Tangipahoa Parish. It didn't take long for us to understand why. Mr. Hoover started our meeting by asking this question to the group, "Do you know what economic development is?" He has grown his business with the understanding that "when you spend a dollar, you create jobs for people." He also stated, "Economic development is about spending money and creating jobs in a community." With this mentality, Mr. Hoover has grown his business exponentially over the last 30 years and is now thriving in the commercial real estate and warehouse industry. His outgoing personality and over-all business know-how enables Mr. Hoover to seal deals with customers who may otherwise look over our parish as a potential location to start or grow their business. His business is "no small potato" and remains a truly beneficial asset to our parish.

Lunch is served! Tuesday's menu is a favorite at our third stop, the Shell Robert Training Facility. Mr. Larry Bleakly, Facility Manager, escorted us through the "offshore" experience that started with a steak or chicken all you can eat lunch. We were all very impressed and not to mention, full.  Once we regained our momentum, we started our detailed journey around the entire training facility. Shell has state of the art training equipment that is used not only by their employees but also sub-contractors and other oil and gas companies. The Shell Robert Training facility has been in operation for 30 years and at its peak trained 5,500 individuals per month. The location of the training facility is crucial as the main objective of Shell and the Robert Training Center is the support of oil and gas exploration operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The closeness to Interstate 55 and Interstate 12 helps with personnel training and emergency response operations. The center is positioned as a secure hub for communications during the event of a Hurricane. The structure can withstand a Category 4 hurricane and can house emergency personnel should an incident occur. We were able to learn about their Incident Command Center and Basic Offshore Operations Skills Training during our visit. The oil industry in our surrounding area is benefited by the location of this facility and in turn, our parish is made known to outsiders who visit the center.

A thriving business east of Amite is Bracy's Nursery, LLC. Our last stop blossomed when we were welcomed at Bracy's by the owner and Leadership Tangipahoa alumni, Mr. Randy Bracy. Mr. Bracy presented the history of the nursery from their roots as a "You Pick'em Farm" to the present day where they have branched out and have grown to over 250 acres with 124 full time employees. From fruit trees, crape myrtles to roses- Bracy's knows plants. They are looking to move more of their business to re-wholesale and landscaping which currently represents 40% of their business. We jumped on a bus and toured a facility we all agreed was cleaner than our own yards. Each area was organized and well cared for which represents what Bracy's stands for in their level of service to their customers. Mr. Welby Major, the Operations Manager, and Mr. Tom Cheers  , the Sales Manager, graciously led the tour and answered all of our questions about the business and plants. Bracy's is helping to put Tangipahoa on the map with their excellent products and service.               

 On behalf of our Leadership Tangipahoa class, I would like to extend gratitude to Southeastern Louisiana University's Southeast Louisiana Business Center, Encore Development, Shell Robert Training Facility, and Bracy's Nursery, LLC for their gracious hospitality during our recent visit in December. A special thank you goes out to our sponsors, First Guaranty Bank and Tangipahoa Parish School System, for supporting the Leadership Tangipahoa program and allowing us the opportunity to learn about our great parish. We will explore Health Care at our next meeting scheduled in January 2017. 

If you are interested in joining or sponsoring an individual for Leadership Tangipahoa or would like additional information, please visit http://www.leadershiptangi.org/.  

Yours Sincerely,
Bret Schnadelbach, Chief Financial Officer - Tangipahoa Parish School System
Casie Navarre, Public Funds Liaison - First Guaranty Bank