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Thursday, February 2, 2023

St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation Receives Excellence in Economic Development Award From the International Economic Development Council

“Sold on St. Bernard” has always been a project of the people.

Images Courtesy of St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation

Contributed by St. Bernard Parish Government

The St Bernard Economic Development Foundation won a Gold Rank for its SBEDF Sold on St. Bernard, a project in the category of Neighborhood and Retail Development of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The honor was presented at an awards ceremony during the IEDC Annual Conference.

“IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. Twenty-five award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers, following a nomination process held earlier this year. IEDC received over 500 submissions from four countries.”

“Sold on St. Bernard” has always been a project of the people. With the parish decimated after Katrina, parish residents could have easily left their lives behind and moved on. Yet, they decided to return home, wade through the damages, and rebuild. Originally, planners came to the residents of St. Bernard with the equivalent of the infamous “Green Dot Plan” of New Orleans, calling for entire neighborhoods to remain as green space, much to the dismay of people hoping for neighborhood revitalization. Sold on St. Bernard has spurred home development in all areas of the parish while mandating home quality and building standards. The impact of the program is immeasurable. It has brought the population’s home back to life.

The program is also responsible for a notable chunk of the population, yielding property taxes, sales taxes, increases in property value, and community development funds.

Totals include the following:

 

• All of the initial 4,500 lots are committed through purchase and sale agreements. • Ninety of these properties are reserved as green space throughout the community.

• Four hundred eighteen Buy & Build properties sold.

• One hundred fourteen Lot Next Door properties sold (since 2017).

• Two hundred seventy-nine Builder Bundle properties awarded.

• More than $17 million raised for community development improvements.

• One thousand six hundred eighty-six or 3.5% of the current parish population (based on an average of 3 people per household).

Sold on St. Bernard is a residential and neighborhood redevelopment program operated by the St. Bernard Parish Department of Community Development. After Hurricane Katrina decimated the parish’s population and physical assets, they were left with an abundance of blighted and vacant properties. St. Bernard Parish came into ownership of over 4,500 of these properties in 2012.

To revitalize these properties and neighborhoods, “Sold on St. Bernard” was created by local government and private partners to streamline the process of residential redevelopment. The program sells lots individually to buyers, in-bulk to developers selected through a rigorous RFP process, and to homeowners with a vacant lot next door that are looking to expand their property.

Initially focusing primarily on marketing the parish as a comfortable community with ample new housing for families, the program has drastically expanded the residential offerings and housing standards of the parish. Hundreds of blighted or vacant properties have been redeveloped into comfortable dwellings, bringing much-needed growth to the parish in the form of population, property tax, sales tax, and more.

“The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the best of economic development and exemplify the leadership that our profession strives for every day,” said 2021 IEDC Board Chair and Invest Buffalo Niagara, President, and CEO Tom Kucharski. “We’re honored to recognize the more than 100 communities whose marketing submissions, projects, and partnerships have improved regional quality of life.”

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