Chamber offers business incentives seminar

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 13, 2010

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – Members of the River Region Chamber of Commerce had the opportunity Thursday to hear about some of the little-known business incentives available to local business owners.

Don Allison, a CPA with Advantous Consulting LLC who used to work with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, spoke to a group representing a spectrum of businesses across the River Parishes.

“It’s a good service the Chamber provides to let their members know about this stuff,” said Allison. “Not enough chambers do this.”

Among the topics up for discussion in the meeting room at Louisiana Technical College in Reserve were the Enterprise Zone Program, which rewards business owners for creating new jobs and employing local residents, and the Quality Jobs Program, which rewards business owners for creating high-paying jobs. Allison also discussed how to take advantage of the various programs and what changes may lie ahead.

Although many of the incentive programs are aimed at industrial operations, some owners of smaller businesses showed up for the presentation as well.

St. James resident Eileen Jasmin of Jasmin Income Tax Services said she probably would not be able to take advantage of many of the programs discussed, but the session provided some points of interest anyway. A former employee of St. James Parish Economic Development, she said she was surprised at the number of programs available.

“They have a lot more credit you can apply for now,” she said.

Mike Capell of Hexion Specialty Chemicals had a more specific goal in mind in attending the session. He had heard of the Quality Jobs and Enterprise Zone programs but wanted to learn more about them. Overall, he said the seminar was very helpful.

“I learned more about the subprograms that are tied to the Enterprise Zone Program and the changes that the state is trying to make,” he said.

Marcus Lambert, a St. Charles Parish councilman, approached the session from a different angle.

He said he came not only for his personal edification but also to learn how to make the parish as business-friendly as possible.

“The information, most of it I didn’t know about,” he said. “It’s just good stuff.”

He was especially interested in the Quality Jobs Program because he thought it would encourage companies to hire locally.

Ricardo Smith, who heads up the Chamber’s Business Development Committee, spearheaded the operation. The ADM employee approached Allison because of his expertise in the field.

“He’s a leader in the industry,” said Smith.

Smith said he was happy with the way the seminar turned out.

“We could always look for more turnout,” he said, “but I think we had a good quality of people.”

The topic was also one close to both him and the Chamber.

“It’s all built around employing our people,” he said.

Smith said the Chamber plans to do more seminars like this in the future. Already on the calendar are sessions dealing with customer service and sales.

For more information on Chamber activities visit