St. Tammany is a bustling parish in southern Louisiana. Set on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, an estuary separating the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico, this industrious place is known as one of the state’s finest – in part thanks to the hard work of the St. Tammany Corporation, its brand new economic development organization.
Launched in July 2018, the St. Tammany Corporation’s main focus is the area’s financial prosperity. Since then, it has secured over $32 million in investments, expanding 200 jobs available in the process. It also grew from two to nine employees and continues to build capacity and sophistication. As part of its mandate, this economic development organization welcomes and supports all new and existing business and industry partners interested in the area to settle, grow and stay, and no project is too big or too small for this skilled team.
Chris Masingill, Chief Executive Officer, shared the organization’s vision and future plans with us.
Results-driven and on a mission
To make its mission clear to all, the organization’s statement is condensed into a small but potent acronym that reflects its goal exactly. ‘T.H.R.I.V.E.’ exemplifies the St. Tammany Corporation’s entire mission and its commitment to Transformation, Honesty, Results-driven outcomes, Intentionality, Vitality, and Engagement. “A new culture has set the tone for a brand new organization under new leadership that operates with a new mission and vision to build capacity, sophistication, and competitiveness,” says Masingill. “We have identified a way to create connectivity, responsiveness and drive engagement throughout the region.”
Indeed, the St. Tammany Corporation takes its role as the local economic driving force seriously. To achieve all of this, the organization is purposefully navigating the growth of a sustainable and healthy economic ecosystem where large and small enterprises of all kinds are able to thrive. This is partially achieved by building meaningful relationships with business and industry partners in the area – and through workforce education. Members are committed to lifelong learning and, as such, are constantly improving their hard and soft skill sets to facilitate the expansion of both the area’s economic wealth and social prospects.
Thanks to all its focused efforts, the region continues to be a magnet for business and industry partners who recognize its value, and the St. Tammany Corporation is particularly proud of the local workforce’s abundant skills and talent.
Great for business
The proof of this strategy’s success is in the big names that the region has welcomed in recent times. These include major employers such as Diversified Foods & Seasonings; ARCOSA, an energy, construction and transport equipment giant; Advanced Sinter Metal Technologies; Mele Printing; Dependable Glass; Hornbeck Offshore Services; Textron, a well-known multi-industry corporation; MECO, a leader in water purification; Dana, Inc., the famous automotive fabricator; and Florida Marine Transporters.
The St. Tammany Corporation’s functions are myriad, and include assisting business and industrial partners in obtaining state and local services and acting as a direct link to the Louisiana Economic Development team. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of all its offerings is the fact that its partners are always assured of the team’s absolute discretion. Here, confidentiality reins and whether it is involved in project development or project management, private information remains such.
Unique place, fantastic access
The state of Louisiana is as unique as its people – and so is St. Tammany. St. Tammany Parish is home to ten cities municipalities: Eden Isle, Slidell, Covington, Mandeville, Abita Springs, Madisonville, Lacombe, Pearl River, Folsom, and Sun. The parish’s close proximity to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast means a mere 32 minutes’ commute, making it an ideal spot to settle, especially for those who need to be close to these two large hubs, but prefer not to live there, or want to capitalize on the reduced running costs of basing industry nearby.
Indeed, getting around is a cinch. In under an hour, the parish offers easy access to two international airports – Louis Armstrong New Orleans International and Gulfport-Biloxi International. There is also an impressive collection of 21 local airports situated in a 20- to 50-mile radius of the I-55, I-10, I-12, and I-59 interstate routes. These include St. Tammany Parish’s Slidell Municipal Airport and St. Tammany Regional Airport in Abita Springs. Baton Rouge is 80 miles away, Houston 350 miles, and Atlanta 450 miles. Access to the Norfolk Southern Railroad in the east of the parish also makes getting cargo to and from St Tammany a breeze. Amtrak also offers daily transport to the north, south, and west, from Slidell.
Some more great news for industry partners is the parish’s proximity to a robust port system. Apart from being close to that of South Louisiana, Manchac and St. Bernard, the port of New Orleans, Port NOLA, has plenty going for it. As America’s only port with access to all six class 1 rail service providers – Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, CN, CSX, Transportation, Kansas City Southern Railway, Norfolk Southern Corp., and Union Pacific Railroad – transporting cargo across a 133,000-mile rail network is far easier than in many other places around the United States. Port NOLA also affords access to the entire Mississippi River and its tributaries, adding significant value to all the transportation possibilities on offer.
Bringing home the bacon
The St. Tammany Corporation’s work is often as diverse as it is complex and, while much of the energy the team pours into the community sometimes goes unnoticed, the proof is clearly evident in the new-found strength of the local economy. In its efforts to make the parish proud, Masingill has been personally involved – in one way or another – with 559 public events since taking up the mantle in July 2018. This is a staggering number considering that he, like the rest of us, only had 365 days in the past year. “[Our team] is always available to our stakeholders,” explains Masingill. “We prioritize the needs of our people and businesses while maintaining the integrity and authenticity of this organization.”
The corporation also held a round table event with U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy as its guest of honor, where a number of important issues around healthcare changes were discussed. The team was also responsible for hosting the Louisiana STEM Northshore Regional Summit for Senator Sharon Hewitt and the Louisiana Board of Regents. At this event, the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the education system was underlined, as the job market increasingly requires qualified professionals in these fields. In addition, it has facilitated 22 incentive packages over the past year, and conducted eight financial and economic development impact studies along with hosting 11 prospect site visits. Add to this the seven site certification programs it managed for the Louisiana Economic Development’s (LED) Economic Development Site Readiness Program (EDRED) and one can see how calling it a busy year is an understatement for this team.
The St. Tammany Corporation also provides business intelligence and targeted research to the landscape – acting as a resource and subject matter expert on economic and demographic information about the St. Tammany business climate. It has committed over 500 hours of staff capacity over the past year to respond to research requests, track and analyze economic trend reports, field and review RFPs and research and compile RFIs (Requests for Information).
Rolling out the future
Moving ahead, the St. Tammany Corporation will soon launch a brand new, next-generation website that will allow its partners a high level of interactivity. The team is also busy with a significant digital upgrade, to include sttammanystats.com, that they describe as “an innovative and progressive business intelligence portal that is designed with site selectors and stakeholders in mind.”
The St. Tammany Corporation has also launched a five-year strategic economic development plan called THRIVE2023 which will allow the team to zero in on economic development. Part of this will include implementing expanded labor force plans that in turn promise to support local skills and retain and grow the local business base. Its own expansion is also a key priority, with lead generation and marketing being another two of the top goals on its extensive to-do list.
No man is an island, and nobody here knows that better than the St. Tammany Corporation. With this in mind, the team is set to lead its parish into a bright new era of strong, authentic relationships and a private-sector investor base like St. Tammany has never seen before.