business expansion

Sales tax collections rise in Terrebonne, Lafourche

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Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes saw a combined increase of more than $11.5 million in sales tax revenues last year, a sign that the local economy may be improving.

Local sales taxes are divided between parish government, law enforcement and levee, road and school districts.

According to totals from the Terrebonne Sales and Use Tax Department, Terrebonne Parish collected about $120 million last year. That’s a $3.7 million increase from 2017.

This is the second year in a row of increased sales tax revenue for Terrebonne.

Lafourche’s gains were even stronger. According to monthly collection totals reported by the Lafourche School Board’s Sales Tax Department, the parish collected about $80.2 million in 2018, a $7.8 million increase.

This is the first increase the parish has seen in at least four years and brings collections back up to the level seen in 2015.

“An increase is sales tax revenue means a better, stronger and more viable Lafourche. We continue to promote #buylocal and are grateful to wait for a table to dine in our restaurants,” Lafourche Chamber of Commerce CEO Lin Kiger said.

Numbers at a glance

Terrebonne:

$120 million in total collections.

Monthly collections average $10 million.

Up $3.7 million from 2017.

Continuing two-year upward trend.

Parishwide sales tax rate is 5.5 percent.

Lafourche:

$80.2 million in total collections.

Monthly collections average $6.7 million.

Up $7.8 milllion from 2017.

First increase since 2014.

First time breaking $80 million since 2014.

Parish sales tax rates vary from 4.65 to 5.4 percent.

“We have continued to witness an increase in trucks on our highways and are hopeful that this activity only adds to the sales tax collection in 2019 and beyond,” Kiger said. “We look forward to more jobs and opportunities and growth on the horizon.”

The last time the parish broke $80 million was in 2014 when it collected about $83.2 million. Since the economic downturn, Lafourche sales tax collections reached a low of $72.4 million in 2017.

“As always, it is our hope to see collections continue to grow — allowing additional dollars for infrastructure, education and tourism throughout our parish,” Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce CEO Tammy Ledet said.

Terrebonne’s lowest point in recent years was $98.5 million in 2010.

The sales tax numbers are starting to match up with other economic indicators, said Matt Rookard, Terrebonne Economic Development Authority CEO.

Local unemployment numbers started to stabilize at the end of 2018, signaling the beginning of the slow recovery cycle, he said.

“The increased sales tax revenue is a good sign that our economy is going in a positive direction,” said Nicol Blanchard, Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce CEO. “Consumers are enjoying the low gas prices allowing them to have more spendable income while the oil and gas industry becomes more efficient and optimistic when planning for the future. The chamber is encouraged by this growth and hopes that it continues.”

In the future, 2017 will probably be known as one of the toughest economic years as the area stayed at the bottom of the down cycle, Rookard said.

“We were at the bottom and stayed there for a significant time,” Rookard said. “I do think there’s a recovery coming.”

As the job market stabilizes, consumer confidence will increase, and that drives sales taxes, he said.

As TEDA continues to look for new development opportunities, companies are pivoting from getting by to planning for growth.

Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com.

Terrebonne economic agency revamped after temporary closure

The Terrebonne Economic Development Authority is moving forward with local development efforts, despite a downturn in revenue.

CEO Matt Rookard presented an overview of the quasi-governmental agency to the Parish Council Wednesday.

The agency was restructured in October 2015 after remaining dormant for about a year. Rookard was hired in 2016. It has a nine-member board and a three-member staff that handles economic development efforts for the parish, such as business recruitment and retention and workforce training.

Between 2016 and 2018, the organization has lost $450,000 from the parish, but that money has been used to pay for other economic development measures such as the dredging of the Houma Navigation Canal and the Schriever train station, Rookard said.

The cuts are in line with other cuts made parishwide due to declining tax revenues, he said.

The agency receives its money through a portion of fees collected through the occupational businesses in the parish.

Despite the cut, TEDA has been using reserve money to keep some operations growing, including organizational reviews, branding and strategic advertising.

When Rookard first took the job, the agency reviewed every detail as part of a larger organizational management.

There were some pretty significant issues, which were part of the reason why the agency was shut down, he said.

“It took a lot longer than I thought it was going to take, but I feel confident in where we are now,” Rookard said. “It was very important to me to start with a very good foundation from an organizational standpoint where you could not come back and look at TEDA and say we’re doing something wrong.”

In terms of branding, the group has created a new logo, a new website and a promotional video.

TEDA is working to become an inaugural member of the state’s retirement community certification program, Rookard said.

The agency is also working on a plan to create a sports tourism faction, called HT Sports, to recruit major sporting events around the parish.

HT Sports could take over operations of the long-awaited Bayou Country Sports Park, but no agreement to that effect has been officially proposed.

However, most of TEDA’s efforts are focused on business retention and expansion.

“Bringing in new business is nice, but keeping businesses from leaving is absolutely crucial,” Rookard said.

As far as new businesses, the parish faces the challenge of having a surplus of land, but at a higher ticket price and with very few spec buildings, he said.

To move TEDA forward, the agency will be asking for an increase in revenue next year.

“As we go forward, we have to start making decisions on whether we’re going to fund these types of programs or whether we’re just going to continue to do the business retention and responses,” Rookard said. “I’m proud of work we did, but if we had more resources, we will continue to do more.”

Many of the council members expressed support of the work TEDA is doing.

“We definitely need to invest in economic development, to the right amount,” Councilman Darrin Guidry said. “But not over invest. That might have been some of the faults of the previous TEDA.”

“I think you’re going to a great direction. I look forward to continuing supporting you and your efforts and your outstanding committee,” Councilwoman Arlanda Williams said.

Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com.

CORTEC, L.L.C. wins state award

CORTEC, L.L.C. Founder Bobby Corte, Jr. accepts the Lantern Award from Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson with Stephen Corte (left), Thomas Chauvin and Larry Chauvin on June 5, 2018 at the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge.

CORTEC, L.L.C. Founder Bobby Corte, Jr. accepts the Lantern Award from Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson with Stephen Corte (left), Thomas Chauvin and Larry Chauvin on June 5, 2018 at the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge.

HOUMA, June 4, 2018 – Houma-based CORTEC, LLC, was recently honored for its excellence in manufacturing and outstanding service to the community with the State of Louisiana’s Lantern Award for the Bayou Region.

“Manufacturers drive Louisiana’s economy in the most important ways,” Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said. “They provide good-paying jobs and have a strong multiplier effect, creating even more jobs outside their facilities. Harnessing our talented workforce, they compete in and win in a global economy as they produce vital products that are in demand by companies and consumers.”

Award nominees are judged on contributions to the community, including investment in employment growth and facility expansion, as well as sustaining and growing operations at least three years prior to the award. The 15-year-old CORTEC is undergoing expansion at both its Port Allen and Houma facilities.

CORTEC’s 156 employees design, manufacture, sell and service valve and manifold products for the oil-and-gas industry through the company’s two divisions: Cortec Fluid Control in Houma and Cortec Manifold Systems in Port Allen. From engineering to assembling, through coating to shipping, CORTEC handles the entire process for quality control. Its valves, chokes and flow-line component products are shipped to the Gulf of Mexico and shale plays in the United States as well as internationally to Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Since launching the Lantern Awards in 1979, LED has recognized more than 300 Louisiana manufacturing businesses with its partners, Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association and the Louisiana Quality Foundation. Award winners receive lanterns handcrafted and donated by Bevolo Gas and Electric Lights of New Orleans.

This year’s award to CORTEC, L.L.C., continues a family tradition, as the Corte family previously received a Lantern Award when it owned and operated COR-VAL, Inc., founded by Bobby Corte, Sr.