Rumor Has It
● By Robert Frey
A Growing New Iberia Lures New Business
By Sherise Henry
You may have heard the recent rumors of new restaurants and businesses that are headed to the Queen City. Developers and city officials confirm there may be something behind all the buzz as they verify coming attractions and forecast the likelihood of more businesses to come.
Mike Tarantino with the Iberia Industrial Development Foundation is a key player in bringing business to the area. He says while he can’t address rumors, he can confirm that this is an exciting time for the area. “We deal with a lot of folks that are inquiring about business here and we honor their confidentiality. There is an exploratory phase that businesses go through as they weigh the pros and cons of doing business in a location. We honor that process,” says Tarantino. The IDF President says there has been a lot of inquiry from businesses about New Iberia; some plans are further out than others. “There are probably five or six development companies that are interested in New Iberia. We are not always dealing with the brand names that everybody knows. We are dealing with developers,” he explains.
Helping to close a major development is Stirling Properties. Seth Citron and Johnny Tolson are brokers for one of the deals and say residents can expect a shopping center on E. Admiral Doyle. The shopping center will include an Affordable Furnishings, Wing Stop, T- Mobile, New Orleans Daiquiris, Tony’s Lunch Box and another business yet to be revealed.
“When I got involved in the leasing and brokerage end of this deal I was really excited,” says Citron. “The project coming together with this quality of tenants was beyond my expectations. We’re going to have a great list of businesses that offer some nice services.” The owner and developer of the center is Chris Overton of Lafayette with Affordable Home Furnishings. Citron calls him an asset to the business deal and is proud of the names the project has attracted. “A local tenant base is awesome, but when you get some national names involved it speaks well of the area and gives incentive for other national names to become interested,” Citron reasons.
Other names that Tarantino says he can confirm are CC’s Coffee House, which has begun construction by the Lewis Street Bridge. Domino’s Pizza is also building a new concept restaurant right next to CC’s. Tarantino says the list of coming attractions is longer, but he can’t mention them right now due to confidentiality. He says by the end of the summer he may be able to confirm more names. The new business interest didn’t just happen by chance there’s a marketing initiative and skilled business personnel that bring it all into fruition.
“Retailers and restaurants want to come to an area where customers are buying what they are selling. It’s important for them to make sure that the price point of their goods is something the area can afford. They want to come to a growing community where surrounding communities can come to shop as well,” explains Tarantino.
As someone who negotiates on behalf of the city, Tarantino explains how the city’s infrastructure can work as an incentive for interested businesses. “Most of the incentives have to do with infrastructure, streets, sewage and gas lines. There’s a lot of great areas not all of them have infrastructure. Tarantino says he’s been working with Mayor Freddie DeCourt and Parish President Larry Richard to provide as much information to businesses as is needed before they set up physical residence.
“We work with realtors and investors to set up a comprehensive marketing program that we send out,” explains Tarantino. That marketing plan includes what Tarantino describes as a psychographic study – a study that breaks down spending habits and marketing trends throughout the area. “It includes information like Visa card transactions, magazine subscriptions, car registrations, etc. It lets potential business owners know what people in our area are spending money on, and it lets existing businesses know where to tweak their inventory to fit spending trends,” says Tarantino.
Recent additions to the city are also a credit to the area’s marketing strategy. “We have Fratelli’s Italian Grille and Olympus, Greek and Lebanese, which have opened in the last year. More companies are figuring out that Iberia Parish is a great place to be,” he explains. Tarantino says the names that are being added to the area later this year are popular ones that many will recognize. “Businesses are the backbone to what provides jobs and sales tax revenues for good public services. A growing retail and restaurant sector show that the community is growing and provides a good quality of life. The more we provide, the less people feel they have to leave town. We want people to live, work and play here. It’s a good place for families with lots to do. We want that to grow.”
The IDF President says that despite the current oil and gas economy there is a lot of retailers who are excited about Iberia Parish, and residents will be pleased over the coming year. “Typically, from the time the business inquires, it takes about 6 to 10 months to make a decision. Then, the construction phase begins within 6 months to a year,” Tarantino concludes.
To recap, here is a list of businesses that the Iberia Industrial Development Foundation and Stirling Properties can confirm.
E. Admiral Doyle
1. Wing Stop
2. T- Mobile
3. Toni’s Lunchbox
4. Affordable Home Furnishings
5. New Orleans’s Original Daiquiri’s
1. C.C’s Coffee
2. New Concept Domino’s Pizza
So if you’ve heard rumors of your favorite store or restaurant coming to town, don’t throw away the idea just yet. This list is just a start for what lies ahead in coming attractions to the area. As more residents shop Iberia the more appeal the area has to potential business looking for a place to invest. So keep your ear to the ground and your Acadiana Lifestyle nearby. We will keep you posted on what’s next for Iberia Parish Development.