Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Statewide Site Readiness Program

Location
Statewide, LA

Services Provided
Site Identification and Site Selection
Site Screening and Desktop Analysis
Site Planning and Feasibility Analysis
Site Assessments and Asset Inventory
Site Due Diligence
Program and Project Management

Schedule
2013 - Present

Years ago, Louisiana found itself on the losing end of too many job-creating, multi-million-dollar project location decisions. “We love Louisiana’s workforce and incentives structure; it’s just that your site is not ready for development,” was a common phrase heard over and over by the top brass in Louisiana’s economic development department. With the sting of project losses still fresh in mind, and driven by a desire to win, Louisiana went to work addressing its lack of development-ready sites. Initially funded by a small grant, Louisiana Economic Development (LED) was able to identify an inventory of strategic sites and implement a program to complete due diligence on these sites creating a robust inventory of development-ready sites.

The State of Louisiana, through LED, designed a Strategic Sites Inventory (SSI) program to substantially increase the number of development-ready sites and accelerate the availability of those sites positioned to compete for and win economic development driver projects. The goal of the SSI program is to align certified sites with global business investment and industrial development opportunities.

CSRS is the prime consultant and program management team lead for identifying and qualifying sites for entry into the program and managing the complete site due diligence and site certification process. Our team member and partner Leotta-Evers Consulting (d.b.a. LEO, LLC) developed and applied a GIS site suitability and identification model to identify sites meeting specific user-defined development criteria across the entire state.

After initial site discovery, our team further screens high-scoring sites from the statewide model using desktop analysis techniques. The desktop analysis provides critical high-level information such as base flood elevation analysis, land use, and zoning analysis, existing infrastructure inventory analysis, and wetlands and environmental sensitivity analysis to determine if the site possesses sufficient positive attributes to justify moving through the detailed due diligence and full certification process. Sites meeting the desktop criteria are propelled into the full site certification program where each site undergoes extensive on-the-ground due diligence and exhaustive engineering analysis.

CSRS leads a team comprised of eight internal personnel performing program management, site due diligence, site planning, and site engineering feasibility studies, in addition to management and coordination of subcontractors for on-the-ground due diligence (Environmental Studies, Geotechnical Investigations, Wetland Delineations, etc.)

Project Success:

Certified sites afford communities a distinct marketing advantage. To date, over 400 sites have been identified statewide, with more than 200 sites having due diligence completed or in progress. Over 120 sites have gone through the full detailed due diligence process and completed certification. Site Certification allows communities to distinguish themselves from the crowd—to differentiate from the rest and capitalize on a unique advantage. Several certified sites have successfully landed economic development driver projects in the state, leading to new investment and job creation in our communities.

Challenges and Solutions:

Creating a program to efficiently and systematically identify, screen, and certify sites required designing a custom process and workflow to drive the desired results.  One of the key features of the process is early front-end site screening to identify site fatal flaws. Identifying fatal flaws early in the process preserves program due diligence dollars and ensures only the best sites move through the full certification process. The full due diligence program performed for each site identifies risk and presents prospective companies with full transparency for the site complete with risk mitigation strategies and associated rough-order-of-magnitude development costs associated with the site.

Certification aims to identify and mitigate risk. Unknowns cannot be quantified and therefore cannot be calculated. Today’s site selection decisions involve many complex variables, each of which has a calculated impact on the ultimate site location decision. Identifying each of these variables and then performing detailed due diligence eliminates the unknowns and gives site selectors the confidence they need to choose Louisiana. Louisiana’s certified sites program was designed to address all of the rigorous site selection criteria routinely encountered in highly technical, data-driven site selection exercises.

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Taylor Gravois, PE, PLS, PMP
Principal

Taylor Gravois, PE, PLS, PMP is a Principal at CSRS and has over 20 years of experience leading projects in the site selection, site and land development, economic development, and infrastructure industries. He leads the firm’s site selection and economic development advisory practice where he works with corporate decision-makers, local governments, private developers, and economic development organizations in support of site selection, site development, economic development, and infrastructure projects. Mr. Gravois focuses the site selection group’s work on assisting corporations with location decisions for large, complex, capital-intensive projects across a wide range of industries. His expertise includes all areas of site selection including initial site identification, fatal flaw analysis, site due diligence, economic development impact analysis, site/civil layout and design, site entitlement and permitting management, incentive negotiations support, and project and program management.

In addition to corporate site selection, our economic advisory practices concentrate on helping state, regional, and local economic development organizations (EDO’s) prepare for and win economic development driver projects and increase economic competitiveness for their community. Mr. Gravois routinely leads projects and programs for EDO clients including site readiness, development advisory, community and infrastructure planning, and impact analyses.

Beyond site selection, Mr. Gravois draws on his 20 years of experience as a civil engineer and land surveyor in performing site selection, site due diligence, land development, and infrastructure project delivery for both large and small facilities, economic development, and infrastructure projects. He works with local governments, private developers, large corporations, and economic development organizations in support of site selection, site development, economic development, and infrastructure projects. Mr. Gravois possesses an in-depth understanding of the engineering processes associated with site and land development and applies this knowledge to every site selection project endeavor for maximum results.

Mr. Gravois has a broad array of site selection and land development experience ranging from overseeing surveys of raw land, site feasibility studies and due diligence, site layout and detailed design, site entitlements, construction administration, contract closeout, to every phase of site selection and project delivery in between. With significant site development, planning, engineering, permitting, land surveying, and project management experience and expertise, he is uniquely qualified to understand and meet each client’s site selection and economic development needs.

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