MANDEVILLE, La. (AP) — A new report suggests St. Tammany Parish is prospering during the economic downturn, with much of the credit going to the parish's location along the Interstate 12 corridor that connects Baton Rouge with the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The report by the nonprofit St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation paints a rosy picture for the parish in the second quarter, showing growth in employment, single-family home construction permits and new businesses.
Ivan Miestchovich Jr., director of the Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research at the University of New Orleans and a foundation board member, tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/S1o5CK) that I-12 is helping to attract industry and good-paying jobs, leading to a higher quality of life for local residents.
"It's slowly but surely created a critical mass (of industry)," he said of the interstate system.
Figures in the report seem to support that claim.
Second-quarter employment increased from 104,344 to 105,770, a rise of 1 percent compared with the same time last year. Meanwhile, year-to-date employment rose nearly 2 percent compared with 2011. However, unemployment claims rose slightly in the quarter.
In the housing market, the number of single-family home construction permits in unincorporated St. Tammany rose from 152 to 197, an increase of 30 percent compared to the second quarter of 2011. There were 890 homes sold parishwide in the second quarter, up from 748 in the same quarter a year earlier, an increase of 19 percent.
For all the positives, St. Tammany's explosive population growth in the past several decades bears watching, Miestchovich said.
There must be a balance between growth and keeping the almost-rural quality of life residents expect when they choose to live in St. Tammany.
"Density is not what attracted people to the parish," he said.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com