Oilfield boosts Lafourche’s economy

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Terrebonne Parish is raking in tax dollars as Houma area solidifies itself as one of the fastest growing and most prosperous business economies in the entire United States.

But Lafourche Parish isn’t doing too bad, either.

With the booming oilfield by its side, both sales taxes and population numbers are up in the small, coastal local parish.

According to figures provided by the Lafourche Parish School Board, sales tax receipts totaled $32,562,047.50 for the 2013-14 fiscal year. Those numbers are up by more than $1.3 million from the $31,247,623.07 the parish collected in the 2012-13 year – a jump of 4.2 percent.

Population has also climbed in Lafourche over the past four years, jumping from 93,556 in 2008 to 97,029 in 2012.

What’s the cause for a lot of the positive activity? You might have guessed it – an explosion of activity in the Gulf of Mexico that has kept citizens of the parish working and in good financial standing compared to other places in the country.

“The oil and gas industry is enjoying a very prosperous time right now and your area is one of the ones reaping the greatest benefits,” said Loren Scott, economic consultant and former LSU chair of economics. “I think the entire Tri-parish area, the Terrebonne Parish area, the Lafourche Parish area and those surrounding communities are having a very prosperous time, and I think some of the statistics you see regarding low unemployment rates and high income jobs show just how nicely things are going.”

Of course, a huge advantage that Lafourche Parish has in its efforts to be a top-tier Louisiana economy is Port Fourchon – one of the biggest engines that drives the entire oil and gas industry throughout our area and, frankly, the entire globe.

The parish is also home to Edison Chouest Offshore’s headquarters, Crosby Tugs, Bollinger Shipyards, Danos and several other major players in the field.

According to Scott’s most recent economic report for southeastern Louisiana, Lafourche Parish has 1,511 energy jobs. The average annual salaries for those jobs total more than $86,000. Multiplying 1,511 by $86,000 shows that the industry alone provided more than $129 million to parish residents.

Of course, more money means more purchases and that’s a large reason for the rise in sales tax figures.

It’s also a reason for Lafourche’s population growth as well, according to Louisiana Oil & Gas Association President Don Briggs who said that folks in other areas are seeing the coastal parishes’ successes and want to move into those areas to get their hands on the high quality jobs.

“I think it all works hand-in-hand and ties together,” Briggs said. “Obviously people and workers will want to live in places with the best economic situations. As we continue to do well as an industry, I think more people will want to come and settle into southeast Louisiana to be a part of that growth.”

So the challenge for the parish now has become to improve quality of life for the residents of Lafourche Parish.

Over the past year, several projects have come to completion, each designed to give Lafourche citizens a better quality of life.

In Thibodaux, the parish recently opened the Norman Swanner Dog Park, which allows lovers of the outdoors an opportunity to spend some time under the sun with their pet.

Toward the southern portion of the parish, money was dedicated to building a pavilion over the basketball courts at the Golden Meadow park, giving athletes shade during their workout.

Other projects are on the books for the future to continue to boost recreation and other aspects of living quality in Lafourche.

Repeated attempts to contact Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph throughout the week to obtain a comment regarding the parish’s economic successes were unsuccessful at press time.

Lafourche Parish is home to a number of major players in the oil and gas industry, Edison Chouest Offshore among them. Total sales tax revenues are buoyed by the industry presence.