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JEDCO unveils updated economic development plan

Today, the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) unveiled an updated economic development strategy for Jefferson Parish. Called the Jefferson EDGE 2020, the plan serves as a long-term blueprint to promote sustainability, job growth and investment in the community.

JEDCO spearheaded the initial development of the Jefferson EDGE in 2000. Over the course of its 15-year history, the EDGE has become a road map for the community’s development. Through the proactive efforts of stakeholders, JEDCO and elected officials, The Jefferson EDGE has delivered game-changing initiatives to the Parish, such as the development of the 500-acre Churchill Technology & Business Park located on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish and quality of life improvements related to the beautification of major corridors, education, and Fat City revitalization.

In order to stay relevant in a consistently-changing economic environment, JEDCO decided to update the EDGE 2020. The plan refocuses efforts on current economic development opportunities to maximize JEDCO’s impact on the economy. The planning process began with a baseline assessment of the previous Jefferson EDGE plans as well as the collection of relevant data on Jefferson Parish demographics, economy, and industry clusters. Regional economic development plans were also taken into account.

JEDCO hosted several rounds of stakeholder meetings with key industry leaders, the civic community, and elected officials to develop the plan and the action items needed to achieve success over the next five years. The refocused Jefferson EDGE 2020 offers a two-tiered strategic framework. The first, Industry Cluster Strategies, will target and prioritize industry clusters with the greatest opportunities for growth in Jefferson Parish. The second part of the plan will focus on Cross-Cutting Issues, which will allow JEDCO and Jefferson Parish to tackle broader issues, such as permitting, building stock, and workforce development, which affect multiple industry clusters.

The targeted industry clusters include:

  • Food, Beverage, Fishing & Seafood: This cluster includes prominent Jefferson Parish businesses, such as Zatarain’s, Magic Seasonings, Kajun Kettle, MMI Culinary, and Big Easy Blends. Action items for this industry cluster include the development of a comprehensive database of information to better connect existing firms with suppliers and target customers, support for new regulations permitting breweries and distilleries in the Parish, and increasing partnerships around local seafood to promote producers.


  • Water Transportation, Distribution & Logistics: This is a foundational industry for Jefferson Parish. Jefferson Parish’s hard assets, such as the Harvey Canal, the Mississippi River, multiple Class 1 railroads, and the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, combine for a multi-modal location that is unrivaled in the Gulf South. Action items for this industry cluster include identifying a new use for the Avondale Shipyard site, using business retention visits to identify training and other workforce needs, and recognizing priority needs for major infrastructure improvements, including freight rail and the Harvey Canal.


  • Health Care: Health care services employ the largest number of people in Jefferson Parish.  Local hospitals, such as Ochsner, East Jefferson General Hospital and West Jefferson Medical Center, have started to place an increased focus on destination health care. Through the EDGE initiative, the parish will address workforce development, regionally integrated marketing and support of medical tourism. Action items for this industry cluster include improving career and workforce development opportunities so Jefferson residents can access jobs in health care, working with Ochsner to transform the Jefferson Highway corridor to include mixed-use, walkable developments, and branding the region’s medical infrastructure.


  • IT Systems & Products: This cluster includes businesses that develop, sell, or train on software and other information technology products. Jefferson Parish is home to several growing firms, such as Geocent, 365 Connect, and ReadSoft. Action items for this industry cluster include developing a Jefferson-based IT industry group to advocate for state and local policies, organizing hack-a-thons to tackle IT needs of other targeted industry clusters in Jefferson Parish, and promoting high-speed fiber development in Jefferson Parish.



  • Water, Coastal, & Emerging Environmental Industries: This industry is the result of tremendous regional planning and development activities that came out of a realization, post-Katrina, that Louisiana can and must be a leader in water management and coastal restoration. Action items include identifying existing firms and workforce skills that already align with or can convert to this cluster, developing a concise brand for this industry cluster that aligns with regional marketing, and preparing for RESTORE Act funding.

The planning process took five months. During that time, JEDCO held two rounds of stakeholder meetings with groups focused on the following four areas: manufacturing, major industries, FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate), and municipal and business groups. JEDCO also held a public meeting and sought feedback on the plan from various civic organizations in the community in order to craft the best possible report. JEDCO engaged approximately 150 people to assist in the development of the updated plan.

JEDCO commissioned GCR, Inc. to craft the updated EDGE report along with an implementation framework to measure success of all action items laid out in the plan. The Jefferson EDGE 2020 was approved by the Jefferson Parish Council in late August.

“The updated Jefferson EDGE plan will position the community for long-term economic growth,” says JEDCO Executive Director Jerry Bologna. “Through a rigorous planning process with our key community thought leaders we addressed major actions and opportunities that need to be taken to ensure a thriving future. We are confident that we have developed a strategy that will result in an even stronger economic landscape for Jefferson Parish.”

Implementation of the plan is set to begin immediately. Click here to see the full Jefferson EDGE 2020 Update.