By: State Senator John Neely Kennedy
Quality First Marine began like most businesses do. Capt. Darryl and Christina Couvillion started small, worked hard and hoped for success. A program called Economic Gardening helped them achieve their goals.
The concept for the Economic Gardening program isn’t complicated. Economic Gardening provides free consulting advice to businesses that show potential for expansion. The idea is to grow jobs and revenue, which helps not just the state but also communities.
Economic Gardening focuses on companies specializing in manufacturing, insurance services and other target industries. In other words, it’s not designed to put a Happy Hamburger on every corner.
As State Treasurer, I’m in charge of paying the state’s bills. I need revenue to do that. I’m not a proponent of tax increases, especially when the oil industry is in a slump and people have lost their homes to floodwaters. I am a fan of letting free enterprise flourish. I want people to be able to seize the American dream and create jobs.
Delivered in conjunction with the Edward Lowe Foundation, Economic Gardening is something that our Louisiana Department of Economic Development does well. It’s also a program that doesn’t receive a lot of fanfare. I can’t claim any ownership of the program. I’m just impressed by its work, and I want more businesses to know about it.
Louisiana didn’t create Economic Gardening. The program started in Littleton, Colo., when a missile manufacturer called Martin Marietta slashed jobs in 1987. Economic Gardening didn’t offer expensive incentive packages to bring in new companies in order to replace the jobs lost. Instead the program worked with existing companies and helped them expand. Over the span of 20 years, the number of jobs in Littleton more than doubled. Sales tax revenue tripled.
Sometimes, all businesses need is a little know-how.
Take Quality First Marine as an example. The business wasn’t popping up high enough in internet searches. If I’m searching for a business on Google, I rarely look at the businesses on the 12th page of my web search. You probably don’t either.
Between 2012 and 2015, revenue soared by $7.9 million at Quality First Marine. The company hopes to participate in another round of Economic Gardening.
Economic Gardening helps businesses recognize market trends, map areas for targeted marketing, optimize search engine results and learn about social media. Sometimes Economic Gardening is pulling together a list of potential customers. Other times it’s correcting mistakes that are burying a company in a Google search.
The sky should be the limit for our Louisiana businesses. Economic Gardening can help you punch through the ceiling and reach the sky.