NLEP recognizes achievement in economic development with TOP Awards

North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP) last night honored the best in economic development at its Annual Meeting, Top Event, at Sam’s Town Hotel in Shreveport.

NLEP recognized TOP Awards winners, which are projects or persons that have made a tremendous impact in economic development throughout North Louisiana during the previous year.

ULM and VCOM were recognized with the TOP Project award for their efforts to bring a medical school to Monroe.

The TOP Project Award recognizes a project that illustrates North Louisiana as a thriving region- a destination for high quality talent, innovative companies and global investment. This year’s TOP Project goes to University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM) and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM). The anticipated medical school at ULM is estimated to generate $60-$77 million a year in economic impact and will improve North Louisiana’s quality of life through better health care.  VCOM addresses the critical need for more primary care physicians in Louisiana and the nation.

The TOP of Mind Award recognizes programs and partnerships that ensure a strong pipeline of talent to support current and future employers. The 2018 Top of Mind winner is North Louisiana Ready2Work.  This coalition of 35 organizations is working toward certifying their communities as ACT Work Ready Communities. By following the ACT system of testing and workforce development, our Work Ready Communities can measure, improve the skill sets of the workforce and close the skills gaps for existing employers. The group includes government, K-12 education, community and technical colleges, workforce development, economic development, chambers of commerce and non-profit organizations from Bossier, Caddo, DeSoto, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland and Webster Parishes. Other communities are expected to come on board soon.

State Rep. Larry Bagley, center, receives the TOP Advocate award.

The next award, TOP Advocate recognizes an elected official serving in NLEP’s 14 parish region who has shown outstanding leadership in economic development. This year’s TOP Advocate is Representative Larry Bagley. His leadership in the state legislature helped to restore Tier 1 funding to regional economic development organizations. The state grant allows the eight regional groups in Louisiana to better market their respective regions, support business expansion and retention and funds economic development research.

Last but not least, the TOP Leader Award recognizes an individual who has provided key support to our NLEP Board Chairman. This year’s TOP Leader, selected by the 2018 NLEP Chair Valarie Jamison, is Ayres Bradford, Director of Business Development for Lincoln Builders in Ruston.

Ayers Bradford receives the TOP Leader Award.

“I congratulate all our Top Award Winners who have made significant contributions in economic development during 2018,” said Scott Martinez, CEcD, NLEP president. “Their work led to meaningful economic progress for North Louisiana and their communities. I also look forward to working with our new Board and Officers to promote economic development in our region.”