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Certified Business Sites

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 sites.

Reducing Risk and Boosting Efficiency

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.

This program is for smaller sites between 10 and 25 acres. For sites larger than this, please visit the Certified Industrial Sites Program, which is for industrial sites that are 25 or more acres in size.

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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 site assessment, soil and cultural desktop studies and wetlands delineation surveys, are assessed for compliance and authenticity. LED 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

Size: At least 10 and less than 25 contiguous, buildable acres, free of impediments to development such as existing structures not appropriate for future commerce, soil contaminants, wetlands, flood plain, protected species and/or cultural resources.

Forested Properties: At least 50% of property on a small site must be cleared and free of trees.  LED may be willing to waive this requirement if the site meets or exceeds all other minimum requirements.

Price per Acre: A fixed purchase price or a fixed leasing price per acre for a specified time period is required to certify and publish a site.

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.

Buildings: If there are any buildings of commercial value within the bounds of the site to be certified those buildings must either 1) pass with the Act of Sale and be included in the selling price or 2) be excluded from the certified site by redrawing the site boundary. The requirement to redraw the boundary does not apply to small buildings like barns, trailers, etc. are not of significant value and would normally be considered “tear down” buildings.

Zoning: The site must be zoned or otherwise approved by parish and affected municipal authorities for any of the following commercial/industrial classifications:

  • General Office Low Rise District
  • General Office High Rise District
  • Commercial Warehousing/Distribution District
  • Light or Heavy Industrial District
  • Planned Unit Development that includes some office, warehouse, and light industrial uses.

Flood: At least 10 contiguous, buildable acres must be above the 100-year flood plain (typically land designated with flood plain zones of X, B, or C).  (In the case of a 10-acre site, all 10-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 a minimum of one foot above the flood plain and meet FEMA standards.

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. order-of-magnitude cost estimate
  2. conceptual design
  3. funding source to meet the minimum level of service within a reasonable timetable.

A 4-inch line is the minimum sized line for LED’s Small Site program.  A 6-inch line is preferred since a 6” water distribution line is the minimum size that can deliver the required dynamic pressure to power sprinkler or hydrant systems.

If the site does not have potable water available on-site, the required cost estimate and schedule to bring water to the site should be for a 6-inch line.

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 at the property boundary, certification will require submission:

  1. an order-of-magnitude cost estimate
  2. a conceptual design
  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 paved with asphalt or concrete and should be capable of supporting vehicles with a maximum gross weight of 83,400 pounds, such as semi-trucks and trailers.

The site must have a paved roadway immediately adjacent to the site or have legal title/ownership in perpetuity of a Right-of-Way to access the site.

If a paved access road is not immediately adjacent to the site but a title to a R-O-W is, certification will require submission of:

  1. order-of-magnitude cost estimate
  2. conceptual design
  3. funding source to build a road from the nearest roadway to the site along the owned R-O-W

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. order-of-magnitude cost estimate
  2. conceptual design
  3. funding source to meet the minimum level of service within a reasonable timetable (considered to be 12-14 months for small sites)

Natural Gas: Natural gas must be available at 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 at the site, certification will require submission of:

  1. order-of-magnitude cost estimate
  2. conceptual design
  3. schedule
  4. 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 Louisiana Economic Development on its interactive sites and building website.

Phase I Environmental Assessment: The site must have undergone a Phase I environmental assessment as a prerequisite for being considered for participation in the certification process. The Phase 1 Environmental Assessment must be less than 5 years old from the date of submission.

Remediated/Contaminated/Brownfield Sites: If there are unresolved environmental issues within the bounds of the site, as discussed in the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment report, the site cannot be certified until a No Further Action/No Further Interest letter or its equivalent from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is provided.

Re-Certification: LED Certified 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.

Phase I Environmental Assessment: The site must have undergone a Phase I environmental assessment as a prerequisite for being considered for participation in the certification process. The Phase 1 Environmental Assessment must be less than 5 years old from the date of submission. LED will accept two types of Environmental Site Assessments: E1527-13 or later for all sites, rural, urban and forested, of any size, and E2247-16 or later for forestlands and rural properties. All older standards will be rejected.

Wetland and Stream Delineation: Applicants must have a wetland and stream field survey conducted to delineate all wetlands and “waters of the US” on the site. If wetlands and waters of the US will likely be impacted by planned development of the site (i.e., wetlands are in the middle of the site or in areas likely to undergo construction), the applicant must submit the wetlands delineation to the US Army Corps of Engineers for a formal Jurisdictional Determination. This formalizes the wetlands delineation and provides some assurance from the Corps that wetlands are no more extensive than the delineation purports.

Note: Wetlands mitigation is NOT required of an applicant but applicants with wetlands in the prime areas of their site are encouraged to mitigate those wetlands.

Topographic Survey and 100/500 year Floodplain Designation: Obtain a suitable interval aerial topographic survey of the site. Demonstrate that the site is either above the 100/500 year floodplain or a site manufacturing pad can be cost effectively constructed to raise the site above the floodplain.

Preliminary Geotechnical Investigation: LED’s Small Sites program does not require a full-blown geotechnical investigation. It does require a memo giving an unofficial opinion discussing the general type and quality of soils expected to be found in the general vicinity of the site. LED requires a one or two-page memo submitted and signed by a registered geotechnical engineer or geologist in the state of Louisiana with 10+ years of experience. A retired geotechnical engineer may be ideal although any Geotech expert meeting the above qualifications is acceptable.

Cultural Resources Investigation: Obtain a database research level cultural and archeological investigation of the site from a qualified third party archeologist to document that there are no known cultural resource sites existing on the site. Provide the results of this third party investigation to the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) and request a letter from SHPO indicating whether the site is cleared for development or if the site requires a Phase 1 Cultural Resources Assessment. If a clearance letter cannot be obtained from SHPO, then a Phase I cultural resources survey must be performed.

Endangered Species Investigation: Secure a letter from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries indicating that development on the site will not impact any protected or endangered species on or near the site.

Railroad Accessibility: If the site can be served by railroad, please provide a brief narrative describing how rail access will be provided. Be sure to indicate if roads, highways, streams, bayous or other water bodies must be crossed. Please include a map as an additional exhibit if the suggested route for access crosses any of the previously mentioned obstacles.

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. Determine if the identified impediments can be cost effectively relocated.

Roadway Accessibility: A four lane major highway within close proximity of the site is preferred. Determine if there is a cost effective means to obtain right-of-way and construct an access road from the site to the four lane highway. Obtain an order-of-magnitude cost estimate for the access road construction, if needed. 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.

The Process

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

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1.

Complete the pre-application and submit to LED.

2.

If approved, LED invites the applicant to submit a full application for site certification.

3.

Applicant completes due diligence as outlined in the full application for site certification.

4.

Applicant submits two hard copies and two electronic of the completed full application for site certification to LED.

5.

LED completes its review of the full application for site certification and provides its recommendation.

6.

If all the minimum requirements are satisfied, the site is recommended for certification.

 

NOTE: All updates and/or suggested modifications to the application for site certification must be completed before final site certification is issued.

7.

LED issues written and electronic notice of certification to applicant and sponsor, and the site is recognized in the Louisiana Site Selection Center (LSSC) as an LED Certified Site.

1.

Complete the pre-application and submit to LED.

2.

If approved, LED invites the applicant to submit a full application for site certification.

3.

Applicant completes due diligence as outlined in the full application for site certification.

4.

Applicant submits two hard copies and two electronic of the completed full application for site certification to LED.

5.

LED completes its review of the full application for site certification and provides its recommendation.

6.

If all the minimum requirements are satisfied, the site is recommended for certification.

 

NOTE: All updates and/or suggested modifications to the application for site certification must be completed before final site certification is issued.

7.

LED issues written and electronic notice of certification to applicant and sponsor, and the site is recognized in the Louisiana Site Selection Center (LSSC) as an LED Certified Site.

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

The Process

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1.

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.

2.

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.

3.

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.

4.

LED will approve vendor proposals or suggest revisions.

5.

If landowners wish, LED contracted vendors can provide proposals and complete work, or site owners can use preferred vendors.

6.

Site owners must arrange for and guarantee the funds for the 25% match required by the program.

7.

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.

8.

Invoices and all supporting documentation for 75% of the cost of completed due diligence action items should be presented to LED for payment.

1.

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.

2.

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.

3.

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.

4.

LED will approve vendor proposals or suggest revisions.

5.

If landowners wish, LED contracted vendors can provide proposals and complete work, or site owners can use preferred vendors.

6.

Site owners must arrange for and guarantee the funds for the 25% match required by the program.

7.

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.

8.

Invoices and all supporting documentation for 75% of the cost of completed due diligence action items should be presented to LED for payment.

Funding Requirements

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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.

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.

Acadiana Region 
Emile Lege, OneAcadiana

Bayou Region 
Vic Lafont, South Louisiana Economic Council

Capital Region 
Russell Richardson, Baton Rouge Area Chamber

Central Region 
Dan Purvis, Louisiana Central

Northeast Region
TBD

Northwest Region
Sheena Bryant, North Louisiana Economic Partnership

Southeast Region
Gary Silbert, Greater New Orleans, Inc.

Southwest Region
Gus Fontenot, SWLA Economic Development Alliance

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
    Carolyn Michon, Biologist
    337.735.8734
    – State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) 
    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