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Concordia Parish ready for marketing

VIDALIA — Fundraising efforts for two economic development-marketing campaigns — one to promote the Miss-Lou and the other strictly Concordia Parish — are making progress.

Concordia Parish Economic and Industrial District Executive Director Heather Malone said Friday during a board of commissioners meeting that the first phase of collecting funds from the various municipalities in Concordia Parish is nearly complete.

Those funds will be used for products like websites with interactive mapping resources and print advertising that would promote the area to potential investors or businesses.

Each municipality in Concordia Parish voted at their respective governing boards to donate the following amounts based on population size:

• City of Vidalia: $5,161.

• Concordia Parish Police Jury: $5,000.

• Town of Ridgecrest: $833.

The Town of Clayton hasn’t confirmed an exact amount they will contribute.

The Town of Ferriday voted not to give money to the project, Malone said.

Once the nearly $11,000 from the public entities is collected, Malone said she will begin asking private businesses in the area to help match that amount.

“We wanted to wait until we got the money from the public entities before going to private business asking them to match a number we didn’t have,” Malone said. “We’re hoping it won’t be a hard sell for the private businesses with the amount we’re asking for.”

Once the money from private businesses is collected to match the public money, Malone said $5,000 will be taken out and reserved for a joint marketing campaign with the Miss-Lou Regionalism Steering Committee.

The steering committee is composed of business and civic leaders from Natchez and Adams County, Concordia Parish, Ferriday and Vidalia.

“The money Adams County will provide is contingent upon what we could raise,” Malone said. “So the plan is for them to match that $5,000 giving us $10,000 for the joint marketing.”

The remainder of the money — approximately $17,000 — will be used for a similar marketing campaign, but strictly for Concordia Parish.

“That will mainly go toward building our website and the research the company would do to provide all the information for the website,” Malone said. “The idea is to not split it up per municipality, but to show what our project is as a whole.

“That includes figuring out what sites and buildings we have available and then also pushing the tourism angle.”

In other news from the meeting:

•Malone gave board members an update on the Vidalia Port including an estimated date of completion for the project.

The 40-acre facility is nearing completion of phase one, which involved creating an access road from the port to Louisiana 131.

The port was included in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s capital construction proposal last year, which included $1 million for development in priority 1 funding and $4 million in priority 5 funding.

Malone said the $1 million in priority 1 funding is expected to come through this year, which will help the project develop.

“With that funding, and the rest that will hopefully be free soon, we will be able to get the port operational,” Malone said. “A lot of hard work has gone into this, so we really want to make sure we keep moving forward.”

Malone said an agriculture industry, which she declined to name because of confidentially agreements, has expressed interest in locating to the Vidalia Industrial Park once the port is available.

“That prospect is really helping us drive the development of the port,” Malone said. “We’re focusing on what the essential needs are to get the port open and then deciding what we can do further down the road.”

With the capital outlay funding expected to arrive this year, Malone said they hope to have the port open and operational by 2014.