Certified Business Sites
North Park Site, Lafayette
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Louisiana Economic Development is responsible for strengthening the state's business environment, including for smaller businesses, and creating a more vibrant Louisiana economy. LED has instituted a Certified Business Sites Program to identify development-ready industrial sites. This program is for smaller sites of between 10 and 25 acres. For sites larger than this, please visit the Certified Sites Program, which is for industrial sites that are 25 or more acres in size.

Economic developers have found that the timeframe for making business location decisions has shortened and companies are becoming much more risk-averse. When a company makes a decision to build a new facility or office they look for a site that is ready to develop and relatively risk free. LED is assisting communities throughout Louisiana to identify and certify business sites as development-ready. Communities can propose a certified site to their clients confident of the site's availability and suitability. Certified business sites offer the additional advantage of ensuring that the client’s construction is more likely to remain on schedule.

What is a Louisiana Certified Business Site?

A Louisiana Economic Development Certified Business Site is a development-ready business site that is suitable for a business park, mixed use development, or Planned Unit Development (PUD). An LED Certified Business Site will have completed a rigorous review process by Louisiana Economic Development and an independent, third-party engineering firm. Specific site details, such as zoning restrictions, title work, environmental studies, soil analysis and surveys, are assessed for compliance and authenticity. Louisiana Economic Development Certified Business Sites are identified in the Louisiana Site Selection Center by a special notation and logo.

Advantages of LED Certified Business Sites:

  • Development ready
  • Substantial due diligence completed
  • Significant site information gathered and documented
  • Independent third-party engineering review
  • Uncertainty and potential obstacles eliminated through enhanced site knowledge
  • More competitive
  • Greater marketability
  • Granted priority in site proposals

Eligibility

Note: A site does not have to be certified to have its profile published on Louisiana Economic Development's interactive sites and building website.

  • Size: Between 10-25 contiguous, buildable acres free of impediments to development such as existing structures not appropriate for future commerce, soil contaminants, wetlands, flood plain, and/or protected species. Price per Acre: A fixed purchase price or a fixed leasing price per acre for a specified time is required to certify and publish a site. Note: Sites 25 acres or more are not eligible for the Louisiana Certified Business Sites Program, but might be eligible for the Louisiana Certified Sites Program. Please refer to LED website for more information about that program, here
  • Property Control/Ownership: Control of the site through option, purchase or other legally binding agreement must be obtained and maintained as a condition of certification. It is required that the property can be obtained free and clear of encumbrances.
  • Zoning/Land Use: The site must be zoned as either: general office low rise district, general office high rise district, warehouse/distribution district, light industrial district, or planned unit development that includes some office, warehouse, and light industrial uses. Many rural parishes do not have zoning; nevertheless, the site needs to be otherwise acceptable to parish authorities for placement of industry, warehouse, or office development. Sites adjacent to significant residential development or other land uses incompatible with industrial activities will not be considered.
  • Flood Plain: At least 10 contiguous, buildable acres must be above the 100-year flood plain. Alternatively, the applicant may provide a formal cost estimate, construction plan and funding source by which construction footprints can be elevated above the flood plain and meet FEMA standards

    Note: The flood plain map that is used to make the above determination must be the latest FEMA map, even if the latest map is still preliminary and even if the local government is protesting or appealing the map.
  • Water Supply: Delivery prior to any potential project startup, either by line or by well, a minimum of 50,000 gallons of potable or process water per day. If an existing source of water supply is not available, certification will require submission of 1) an order-of-magnitude cost estimate, 2) a conceptual design and 3) funding source to meet the minimum level of service within a reasonable timetable. Typically, a 4” water distribution line is the minimum size that can deliver the required dynamic pressure required at industrial sites.
  • Sanitary Sewer: Provide a minimum of 50,000 gallons per day of available sanitary sewer capacity in a reasonable time period upon notification. If existing sewer capacity is not available to the property boundary, certification will require submission of 1) an order-of-magnitude cost estimate, 2) a conceptual design, and 3) a funding source to meet the minimum level of service within a reasonable timetable.
  • General Road Access: The roads accessing the site must be able to support vehicles with a maximum gross weight of 83,400 pounds, such as semi-trucks and trailers. If an access road is not immediately adjacent to the site, certification will require submission of 1) an order-of-magnitude cost estimate, 2) a conceptual design and 3) a funding source to meet the required access within a reasonable timetable.
  • Electricity: Identify service provider or providers that can deliver reliable 3-Phase power service to the site prior to any potential project startup. If existing capacity is not available at the site, certification will require submission of 1) an order-of-magnitude cost estimate, 2) a conceptual design and 3) a funding source to meet the minimum level of service within a reasonable timetable.
  • Natural Gas: Natural gas must be available to the property boundary or available prior to any potential project startup. Typically, a minimum of a 4” distribution line is required with an 8” line preferred. If natural gas is not available, certification will require submission of 1) an order-of-magnitude cost estimate, 2) a conceptual design and 3) a funding source to meet the minimum level of service within a reasonable timetable. 
  • Listing: The property owner must agree to have the site published by the Louisiana Economic Development on its interactive sites and building website.
  • Phase I Environmental Assessment: The site must have undergone a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment as a prerequisite for being considered for participation in the certification process. The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment must be less than 5 years old from the date of submission.
  • Remediated Sites/Contaminated/Brownfield Sites: If there are unresolved environmental issues, as discussed in the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment, the site cannot be certified until a No Further Action letter or its equivalent from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is provided.
  • Re-Certification: LED Certified Business Sites must be re-certified every five years by documenting changes in adjacent land use, right-of-ways, existing structures, zoning, transportation infrastructure, utilities, total available acreage, environmental and cultural conditions, ownership, topography, and any other pertinent changes that impact the marketability of the site. A new application and due diligence will not be required.

CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

The following due diligence action items must be completed for certification.

  • Phase I Environmental Assessment: The site must have undergone a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment as a prerequisite for being considered for participation in the certification process. The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment must be less than 5 years old from the date of submission.
  • Wetland and Stream Delineation: Applicants must have a wetland and stream field survey conducted to delineate all wetlands and “waters of the U.S.” on the site. LED will NOT certify any sites in the range of 10-25 acres that have wetlands in/near the center of the site. Small sites are allowed to have some wetlands, as long as the wetlands are near the site boundaries.
  • Topographic Survey and 100 year Floodplain Designation: Obtain a USGS “Quad” map of the site. The map should be zoomed in close enough to the site so the prospective buyer can read the topographical data (elevations). As with all maps, the site must be outlined on the map using a wide, bold line in a contrasting color.

    Note: Quad maps are available electronically on the web. The electronic map can be zoomed in close to the site with no loss of fidelity. Obtain the latest FEMA DFIRM map, whether preliminary or final. Demonstrate that the site is either above the 100 year flood plain or a site manufacturing pad can be cost effectively constructed to raise the site above the flood plain.
  • Preliminary Geotechnical Investigation: Obtain a preliminary geotechnical investigation of the site generally characterizing the site’s soil, rock and groundwater conditions. Substantiate that unfavorable geotechnical conditions do not exist at the site. The geotechnical investigation required for certification should involve 2 borings spread evenly across the site.  
    Here is LED’s guidance for the required number of borings and depth of borings.
    1 boring to at least 25’
    1 boring to at least 50’

    Note: If the applicant has recent geotechnical data from a project in the immediate vicinity of the site, that data may be deemed acceptable to LED.
  • Cultural Resources Investigation: All small sites applying for certification must undergo a “desktop-level” Cultural Resources study, as described below, to verify there are no known historic or prehistoric archeological finds that will be destroyed by an industrial development. A full Phase 1 Cultural Resources study is NOT required. The process to clear a small site for inclusion in the small sites certification program typically requires one step:
    Check the Office of Cultural Development (OCD) Database. Hire a qualified third-party archeologist with access to the OCD’s confidential electronic maps database to see if the site has been surveyed for cultural resources in the past. The OCD keeps comprehensive records of previous archaeological studies in the state; only archeologists are allowed to access this on-line database. This desktop-level study will typically take under one hour to complete.
  • Endangered Species Investigation: Secure a letter from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) indicating that development on the site will not impact any protected or endangered species on or near the site. It is very rare but the LDWF will occasionally ask for a “habitat survey” to determine if certain species have habitat on the site. If so, this study must be conducted in order for the site to be certified. An Endangered Species Study is not required or desired. There is no reason to pay money send a scientist to the site to look for endangered species. A letter from the LDWF is all that is needed.
  • Railroad Accessibility: Rail access on a site always makes the site more valuable than a site without rail access. Determine if rail can be brought to the site easily without the need to cross any major roadways and include a simple map showing the location of the rail and the site. If the rail must cross any state or Federal highways, be sure to state that in any comments and show that on the map.
  • Utility, Oil/Gas Well and Pipeline Easements and Rights-of-Way: Identify any and all existing easements, utility rights-of-way, well heads, pipelines, etc. on the site that may be potential impediments to fully utilizing the site.
  • Roadway Accessibility: A four-lane major highway within close proximity of the site is preferred. As described earlier, include a good map showing how freight trucks will access the site from the Interstate system. Average daily traffic counts must be supplied for sites on roads with vehicle counts greater than 10,000 day. Additionally, sites located on these busier roads must attach a “letter of no objection” from parish roadway authorities.

GETTING STARTED

To qualify for certification, you must complete the pre-application and submit it to LED.

Contact: 
Larry Henson, CCR
225.342.1135

For a printable guide, view the Certified Sites Program Overview.


FUNDING ASSISTANCE

The EDRED site improvement funds are available to site owners, managers and regional ED Organizations to assist with identified action items needed to improve the marketability of quality sites and qualify for LED site certification. EDRED allows for LED to provide a 75% match for required site improvement work. All sites accepted into the site improvement program are eligible for LED site certification

Requirements include: a clearly defined price range (including an option or MOU for third-party owned sites), and the scope of work in proposals by local firms should be reviewed by LED. Funds will be used for expenses such as site engineering and basic due diligence. These expenses may include: Phase I environmental survey, threatened & endangered species survey, cultural & archaeological survey, preliminary geotechnical survey, wetlands / floodplain delineation, engineering conceptual plans for infrastructure improvements, and other necessary work. A responsible party (site owner, EDO, etc.) must agree to pay the vendor(s) 25% of the total invoice price.

The 25% local match cannot come from EDO Tier 1 funds.


    Process

    • Complete LED certified sites pre-application (NOTE: Site owners are not required to pursue LED site certification but the same due diligence action items apply for EDRED funding as for certification so the site becomes automatically eligible for certification pending completion of the application).
    • If approval of the pre-application is received, the site will be added to the work plan and be considered eligible for certification and EDRED funding assistance. 
    • The applicant will be notified of the due diligence action items required and be asked to engage appropriate vendors to provide proposals with itemized scope of work and proposed price. 
    • LED will approve vendor proposals or suggest revisions. 
    • If land owners wish, LED contracted vendors can provide proposals and complete work, or site owners can use preferred vendors.
    • Site owners must arrange for and guarantee the funds for the 25% match required by the program.
    • Reimbursement of approved site due diligence at 75% of the total cost must be through a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) with the state of Louisiana. CEAs are in place with the eight regional economic development organizations. The LED contract vendors also have CEAs in place. (NOTE: Arrangements for reimbursement through an existing CEA must be made before any work is commenced. Site work done prior to the execution of a CEA will not be reimbursed).
    • Invoices and all supporting documentation for 75% of the cost of completed due diligence action items should be presented to LED for payment.

    Requirements

    • LED funding requires a pledge to provide the local match: 75% LED/25% local+ Requirements
    • Site needs to be on LED work plan 
    • Sale price and/or option needs to be secured prior to funding
    • Expenditure items need to be on the LED work plan to receive funding. These work items should be identified by LED as a priority. Other work not identified by LED should be funded without the LED match.
    • Local entities can select the firm to perform the work or LED can assign the work to an engineering firm with which LED has an existing professional services contract. In any case, LED must review and concur with the scope prior to agreeing to provide the 75% match.
    • Local vendors may be asked to subcontract with an engineering firm contracted to LED or work though their regional Economic Development Organization.
    • If work is performed by LED contracted firms such as AECOM or CSRS, then a letter of agreement to pay 25% of the total invoice must be provided by a responsible party. The responsible party will have the opportunity to review and approve the scope and price in advance. 

Regional EDO Site Funding Contacts

Acadiana Region 
Zach Hager, OneAcadiana

Bayou Region 
Vic Lafont, South Louisiana Economic Council 

Capital Region 
Jim Cavanaugh, Baton Rouge Area Chamber

Central Region 
Rick Ranson, Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance

Northeast Region
Tana Trichel, Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance

Northwest Region
Liz Pierre, North Louisiana Economic Partnership

Southeast Region
Grady Fitzpatrick, Greater New Orleans, Inc. 

Southwest Region
Avon Knowlton, SWLA Economic Development Alliance


RESOURCES

Verification of Site Availability

Site Zoning, Tax Assessment, and Special Economic Development Districts

Utilities and Infrastructure

Applicants will need assistance from their local offices and providers. You can also download a printable Resource Guide.

  • Environmental Assessment
    Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
      Amity Bass, Coordinator, Louisiana Natural Heritage Program
      225.765.2975
    Office of Cultural Development (OCD) 
      Rachel Watson, Section 106 Review & Compliance, Division of Archaeology 
      225.342.8165
    Wetlands Delineation/Determination
      U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
      Team New Orleans
      504.862.2201
    Vicksburg District
      601.631.5000