BASTROP, La. (07/07/2020) — Bastrop’s International Paper Mill was once a stark sign of a booming economy, it’s now all but a plot of land, but soon it’ll be home to new business.
“I think that’ll be a good thing because it’ll bring revenue back to this town, so things will speed up a little bit,” said Bastrop resident Robert Robinson.
Act 261 creates an economic development district for the former paper mill site. State Representatives Frederick Jones and Michael Echols say the land is development ready, meaning not a dime is needed to get things started.
“You have five rail lines that are there on the site, you have an 8-inch major gas line that comes through the site, and [an] electrical grid,” said Representative Michael Echols.
Representative Echols says they’re looking at industrial type businesses, “Probably in the bio or manufacturing sector, something in the wood product sector…We’ve also already talked to the larger industrial organizations that are already in NELA about the potential to expand.”
The biggest hurdle though, is creating incentive to attract businesses to even come here according to the representatives.
“It’s got a tax increment financing district. They can take portions of sales taxes or other use taxes and reinvest back in infrastructure,” said Echols.
That doesn’t affect existing businesses though. The two predict things will begin to take shape within the next 3-5 years.
“The city started to go down and ever since then, as far as economy-wise, money-wise the city has gone down,” said Robinson.
However, these legislators say they’re working will local governments and each other to see Northeast Louisiana grow into a thriving economy.
Representative Echols says he anticipates a special session in the fall thanks to COVID and other economic challenges. He says more tax policy and incentive policy will need to be made to enhance the economic districts in Northeast Louisiana.