Written by Bob Anderson [The Advocate July 3, 2011]
After an economic winter, shoots of business life in recent months have burst forth along the Interstate 12 corridor in Livingston, Tangipahoa and St. Tammany parishes.
During the past decade, those three parishes east of Baton Rouge ranked in Louisiana’s top four, behind Ascension Parish, with growth rates above 20 percent. Livingston’s rate almost touched 40 percent.
Economic and political officials interviewed agree the I-12 corridor will resume hearty growth. However, they have unique perspectives on where and when that growth will occur and what could complicate matters.
The I-12 corridor has been a “national hot spot” for business development and will continue to be a driver of Louisiana’s economy, said Bill Jobert, director of Southeastern Louisiana University’s Small Business Development Center.
Growth has been heaviest near Baton Rouge and around the North Shore, but that growth will move toward the center as land availability tightens, Jobert said.
In the past decade, promises of good schools, low crime and open spaces combined with industries and distribution centers to lure people from Baton Rouge and New Orleans, he said. Hurricane Katrina pushed even more people into the area. Stores, restaurants and professional services were following before a national economic downturn interrupted the flow.
Though he thinks that flow will pick up again, Jobert isn’t expecting a swift change.
“We’re not going to see a giant uptick in the next six months,” he said.
But Margot May, chairwoman of the Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce, said the parish already has begun to grow again. She points to a number of new businesses and developments just breaking ground.
A review of building permits in Livingston Parish shows that in the first six months of 2011, the number of permits for new businesses is already 30 percent higher than for all of last year and on target to top even the 2006 highs.
Permits for new homes, however, are even lower than in a lackluster 2010 and far below stratospheric 2006 numbers. Livingston Parish President Mike Grimmer said that seeing companies starting work on a number of major projects that had been dormant is an indication the parish’s business economy is on the upswing.
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Matthew Shirley joined Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate in January 2011. Matthew is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in International Trade and Finance. While at LSU Matthew was a member of Omicron Delta Epsilon The International Honor Society for Economics. Matthew’s professional memberships include the Greater Baton Rouge Association of REALTORS® Commercial Investment Division and the Louisiana Commercial Data Base (LACDB).
Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate is a member of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce (BRAC); the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce; the Baton Rouge Growth Coalition; the Baton Rouge Better Business Bureau; the Louisiana Commercial Data Base (LACDB); and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Several agents, on an individual basis, are members of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors® (SIOR), the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute (CCIM); the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR); and the Greater Baton Rouge Association of REALTORS® Commercial Investment Division (CID).