New Roads opens business corridor

City officials Wednesday officially opened Memorial Boulevard, a $1.6 million business corridor, to the public as part of a $2.5 million infrastructure investment aimed at triggering economic growth for New Roads and Pointe Coupee Parish.

“In order to spur economic growth we had to build a road that would be conducive to people wanting to come and do business here,” Mayor Robert Myer said. “That’s why we built something more than just the customary rural road. We constructed a boulevard-type street with bike paths, a turnaround and sidewalks. The town is called New Roads, but a new road hadn’t been built in the city in nearly 50 years.”

Memorial Boulevard is the second phase of Myer’s ambitious infrastructure plan for New Roads, which included revamping a 12-acre site near the Oil Mill property into a multi-use facility and park then adding a skate and splash park in August. Next year, Myer intends to build an Industrial Park off La. 10.

Memorial Boulevard’s accessibility to the public Wednesday coincided with the grand opening of the city’s new Super Walmart store, which is adding more than 300 new jobs to the parish.

Cottonport Bank and The Pangburn Group, a record-keeping and software development firm, will also set up shop along the new corridor.

The Pangburn Group’s building expansion on the southeast corner of the corridor could mean another 60 new jobs, CEO Brian E. Pangburn said. “We currently employ about 44 people; we’re really crammed right now in our current offices,” he said.

“We’re looking to bring more technical jobs to (the parish),” Pangburn said. “We develop our own software so we’re looking for more software developers. Once we finish the third floor, we’ll be able to put up to 100 employees in the new building.”

The mayor said the city is already in talks with an assisted living facility and other businesses.

“Because of the businesses we are talking to, this project has the potential to create more than 400 new jobs along this corridor itself,” Myer said.

Les Cantrell, director of economic development for the parish Chamber of Commerce, said the development will likely boost the parish’s annual tax revenues by 5 percent to 15 percent.

“With Super Walmart and Memorial Boulevard being built, this will be the cornerstone for future development of this new retail area not only for New Roads, but the parish as well,” Cantrell said.

Construction on Memorial Boulevard, which connects Hospital Road and Major Parkway, began two years ago.

Myer said the parish Police Jury contributed $450,000 to the project while the city gave the remainder.

“Instead of trying to get a grant or the voters to approve a tax, we went in and cut our budget tremendously (and) refinanced our bonds, creating the $2.5 million for the infrastructure projects,” he said.