Everybody wants a piece of the pie when it comes to the potential for economic prosperity during Southwest Louisiana's "big boom."
Yet, some major business people feel certain projects are being unfairly shot down, so they have formed the "Alliance for Positive Growth," aimed at promoting what they consider positive growth.
Near Country Club Road and Lake Street, Matt Redd, commercial realtor, was working with a developer on a $35 million apartment complex. But ultimately, Redd said a zoning board denied the project and the developer left town. Redd, who's alliance president, said that shouldn't happen because, for instance, a certain official doesn't think the development is needed.
"Maybe we have too many apartment complexes on this road already; maybe they have too many RV parks in this area already. Well, zoning is not the catalyst for supply and demand. The market controls supply and demand," he said.
The alliance is composed of various real estate, construction, and development professionals. Redd said they plan to help officials.
"A lot of times, we feel that decisions were made - that they may not be looking at all the ripples in the water after that decision's made," he said.
Some members of this growing group are fierce competitors. Yet together, they plan to monitor and participate in the process of formulating new policies and ordinances to make sure they promote good growth.
"The exact mission statement of the board is to research, education and publicize to the general public the factors of positive growth in the geographical area of Southwest Louisiana," said Bart Yakupzack, alliance member.
"We're not here to be adversarial with any public organization. The whole purpose of this organization is to bridge the gap between the business community and the political entities in this community. And we do have a gap," said Ralph Lewing, alliance member.
The group also hopes to work with public bodies to develop infrastructure.
"And to make sure the money is going in those directions and it's being used the way it should be used," he said.
And they are developing a pledge and report card for local elected officials.
"We feel that it is important to the future growth in the five-parish area that all of our politicians are responsible and held accountable to those who have put them into office to represent and direct our future," said Brent Lumpkin, alliance member.
Collectively, members plan to endorse and support projects they think will mean positive growth for Southwest Louisiana.
"The board would define what good growth is and how we get behind and sort of stamp projects," said Yakupzack.
The group also plans to support civic initiatives that enhance residents' quality of life.
To hear more from Matt Redd look for the web extra with this story. And click here to learn more about the alliance.
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