(AVONALE, La) — The Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) is proud to announce its inclusion in the inaugural class of UNO 25, an initiative that identifies, recognizes and celebrates 25 high-impact businesses led by University of New Orleans alumni. On Tuesday, the organization was honored at a special luncheon held at The Roosevelt New Orleans.
UNO Alumnus, Jerry Bologna, serves as JEDCO’s President and CEO. He is an innovative trailblazer with a vision for both the organization and the Parish. Under Jerry’s leadership, JEDCO underwent a complete rebrand; the team developed a new logo, updated its website, added new social media platforms to its list, and adjusted the JEDCO voice to be more accessible to the public. In 2013, just months into Jerry’s role as President & CEO, JEDCO launched a pitch competition for startup companies with ties to Jefferson Parish. The JEDCO Challenge has become a premier event for Jefferson Parish, attracting more than 100 attendees each year and elevating opportunities for startup companies such as MobileQubes, Chosen Diagnostics, MashBall, ICONIC, and Jambalaya Girl.
Business and political leadership, including the White House and members of the US Senate, recognized JEDCO’s contributions to the region’s recovery efforts following multiple disasters. Since then, the International Economic Development Council has regularly asked Jerry to assist communities throughout North America in the development of business and economic recovery plans after disasters. A Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), Jerry has been recognized by local, regional, and national organizations for his contribution to the economic development industry.
JEDCO’s team also features a number of UNO alumni. Scott Rojas, JEDCO’s Director of Facilities and Information Technology, and Kate Wendel, JEDCO’s Economic Development Specialist, both attended UNO. Additionally, Lacey Bordelon, Vice President & COO, received her Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UNO. Lacey is responsible for directing JEDCO’s internationally award-winning business retention & expansion program designed to link existing businesses with resources and assistance needed to overcome obstacles and attain their growth objectives. She is also responsible for the preparation of competitive proposals to recruit companies to the parish. Lacey oversees the continued development and growth of the Churchill Technology & Business Park as well as the organization’s strategic planning initiative, the Jefferson EDGE 2020.
Founded in 1987, JEDCO has assisted thousands of local businesses, financed over 470 projects, and attracted hundreds of new companies to the region. A small, dynamic team, tasked with creating jobs through business retention, attraction and entrepreneurship, meets with businesses regularly to assess needs and provide support. The organization also provides tax incentive guidance, Parish interface, site selection, demographic services, and small business financing to a diverse industry base in Jefferson Parish. JEDCO is one of only 60 Accredited Economic Development Organizations in North America and one of only two Parish-level AEDOs in the state. The organization has held this accreditation since 2008.
In recent years, JEDCO attracted major national and global companies to Jefferson Parish, including Select Comfort, a $1 billion publicly traded national brand, and Dyno Nobel America, a global leader in the chemical industry bringing over $1 billion in foreign direct investment into the community. JEDCO’s work with Ochsner Health System is helping to develop an underutilized stretch of Jefferson Highway into an international healthcare destination through nearly $400 million in capital improvements and the creation of 3,200 jobs. Other notable projects include the attraction of Starr Textile Services, Chronos Body Health & Wellness, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, 365 Connect, and Delgado Community College’s River City Campus and Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence in the Churchill Technology and Business Park.
JEDCO’s impact on the Jefferson Parish business community and the region is far-reaching. The organization’s inclusion in the UNO 25 is a testament to both JEDCO’s success and UNO’s educational strengths.
“It is an honor to be part of such a prestigious list of businesses,” Jerry Bologna said. “I am personally honored to call myself a UNO alumnus and to share this accolade with several other UNO alumni on the JEDCO team. My UNO education has had a lasting impact on my career and I know my colleagues feel the same. JEDCO enjoys an excellent partnership with the University of New Orleans, making this distinction even more impactful for our organization. We are grateful for our continued collaboration with UNO and for this exceptional recognition.”
The University solicited UNO 25 nominations and applications in late 2017. A selection committee, chaired by President John Nicklow, winnowed the list to 25 honorees.
“The University of New Orleans has more than 75,000 proud alumni and more than half of them live in the Greater New Orleans area,” said President Nicklow. “The influence of our alumni is profound and pervasive. They are leaders and innovators in their fields. In many different ways, they help propel our economy and contribute to an enhanced quality of life for all in our community. We believe they are deserving of this recognition.”