St. Bernard Parish Council Approves Tech Incentive Program
CHALMETTE, La. – The St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation announced the unanimous passing of the “Digital Media & Software Incentive Program” at the St. Bernard Parish Council’s June 15 meeting. The incentive, structured by SBEDF as a complement to Louisiana Economic Development’s Digital Media & Software Tax Credit, aims to provide a competitive advantage to St. Bernard Parish in attracting digital and interactive media, technology, and software companies.
The incentive provides cash rebates for digital media and software companies looking to expand their operations into St. Bernard Parish and hire local community members. The program includes a 12.5% local cash rebate on qualified labor expenses for in-state employees, along with an additional 12.5% rebate on hires of parish residents over the next two years. Companies will also have the chance to receive an 18% rebate on qualified expenses in St. Bernard Parish over the next two years. These offerings are only available to companies creating a minimum of 5 full-time jobs over a two-year period, each of which meet or exceed a salary of $45,000, annually. Companies must also have a production facility or office within the parish.
The Council will cap the annual spending on the program at $150,000, with a maximum of $75,000 for any individual project. No more than the yearly, predetermined amount will be expended. Councilman Gillis McCloskey of District A, who introduced the bill during June 15th‘s meeting, believes these incentives will help with attracting an industry that is keen on seeking out competitive advantages. “We’re working to make St. Bernard attractive to the more incentivized industries,” said McCloskey, adding that the parish was “flipping the eligibility script” by including particular rebates and incentives that are excluded from the state’s program.
Companies are eligible to apply for St. Bernard’s new incentive after they are issued Initial Certification for State’s Digital Media & Software Tax Credit. After that, companies interested in locating in the parish can complete their application online to come under consideration from the St. Bernard Incentive Review Board. Eligible expenses include labor in the form of customer service, business development, assistants, marketing, accounting, clerical, installation, janitorial, human resources, administrative, and manufacturing, while production expenses include furniture and fixtures, indirect production equipment, physical advertisements, and lodging and housing. All production expenses must be purchased in St. Bernard.
Meaghan McCormack, Executive Director of SBEDF, has long eyed the digital media and software industry as key to economic growth and prosperity for St. Bernard. An industry that creates over $1.5b in impact statewide and 11,868 jobs in the Greater New Orleans region, digital media and software jobs are also coveted due to their high wages: over $70,000, on average. McCormack thanked her predecessor and colleagues from GNO, Inc., The Ranch Studios, Nunez Community College, and the newly announced Digital Media Institute (DMI) for their efforts in paving the way for this incentive, adding that, “this is huge – not just because of the sector and what digital media represents to our region – but because it’s an opportunity to educate our workforce in a different sector and make our parish more competitive.” Ultimately, McCormack said, the goal is to, “provide sustainable, exciting, long-term career opportunities for the people who live here.”
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