AVONDALE — The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) unveiled a new long-term economic development strategic plan to move the Jefferson Parish economy forward with resiliency, social equity, and competitiveness. The Jefferson EDGE 2025, which was adopted by the Jefferson Parish Council on March 17 as the official economic development strategic plan for Jefferson Parish, lays out a path to grow Jefferson Parish’s economy through the retention and creation of quality jobs, entrepreneurship, and investment over the next five years (2021-2025). JEDCO and key partners collaborated to develop a bold, innovative plan centered around several core principals and three major goals.
As JEDCO started to develop plans for the Jefferson EDGE 2025, COVID-19 had begun its transformation into a full-blown pandemic. JEDCO selected Austin-based consulting firm TIP Strategies (TIP) to facilitate the planning process and develop the fifth iteration of the EDGE plan in the midst of global disruption. JEDCO and TIP carried out months of virtual planning and development sessions with elected officials, key stakeholders and investors, and business leaders to develop the strategy. The group analyzed economic trends that had advanced during the pandemic, such as online retail and remote work, and reviewed the full impact of COVID-19 on the Jefferson Parish economy, while also assessing local and regional priorities.
“2020 proved to us that economic disruptions can aid in propelling our community forward. Taking into account a global pandemic, social and political unrest, and a challenging hurricane season, we embarked on a strategic planning process to determine the economic future of Jefferson Parish ,” said JEDCO President & CEO Jerry Bologna. “We invited a diverse group of individuals, industries, and perspectives to the table to talk about the things that matter to our community. What emerged from these discussions was a comprehensive plan that focused on creating jobs for our residents, opportunities for our entrepreneurs, and a sense of place that will attract newcomers into our area. We thank the many community leaders, stakeholders, investors, and elected officials who joined us to bring this plan to life.”
The multiple planning and research sessions helped JEDCO to create a plan that prioritizes core principles—Resiliency, Social Equity, and Competitiveness—to improve the vitality, resiliency, and diversity of the Jefferson Parish economy, position the parish for a more equitable recovery from the pandemic, and strengthen the competitiveness and innovation of Jefferson Parish over the next five years and beyond.
There are three major goals outlined in the Jefferson EDGE 2025:
Talent & Workforce: Ensuring residents have access to well-paying jobs and employers have access to a pipeline of talent
Innovation & Industry: Aggressively pursuing innovation-centric industries and encouraging entrepreneurship
Quality of Place and Real Estate: Accelerate real estate development projects that create quality spaces for new jobs and investment in the Parish’s industrial, commercial, and mixed-use districts
Each goal is supported by dozens of actions and initiatives designed to develop and attract talent, draw new investment and job growth in target industries, and create quality places and amenities. The goals tie in with Jefferson Parish’s five target industry clusters to create a holistic approach to economic development and advancement. The industry clusters are Healthcare Innovation, Supply Chain Infrastructure, Culinary Products, Environmental & Engineering Services, and Technology & Design.
“Jefferson Parish has long been a hub for world-class innovation and business,” said Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng. “This new economic development strategic plan sets our community up to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic quickly and to accelerate economic growth and vitality in the future, so we can maintain our role as the economic engine of our region. We commend the many business leaders, organizations, and stakeholders who joined the discussions to help create a forward-thinking vision that will impact our community long-term.”
Over the course of its 20-year history, The Jefferson EDGE has provided a roadmap for promoting sustainability, job growth, and investment in Jefferson Parish. First adopted in 2000, the initial plan helped set the course for many of the Parish’s most successful initiatives, including laying the groundwork for the 480-acre Churchill Technology and Business Park, one of the region’s last major greenfield sites. Other accomplishments, such as prioritizing and facilitating billions of dollars in critical infrastructure improvements, the ongoing efforts to revitalize Metairie’s Fat City neighborhood, the purchase and redevelopment of the former Avondale Shipyard, and the Jefferson Parish Housing Stock Enhancement Strategic Plan, were all initiated during earlier EDGE planning efforts.
The Jefferson EDGE 2025 was approved by the JEDCO Board of Commissioners and adopted by the Jefferson Parish Council as the official economic development strategic plan for the Parish. The planning process took 9 months. During that time, JEDCO held multiple rounds of virtual stakeholder meetings to get feedback from a diverse range of industries, backgrounds and perspectives.