DERIDDER — It’s been eight years in the making, but DeRidder and Beauregard Parish now has a “megasite.” And with it comes the promise of thousands of jobs for the area.

DERIDDER — It’s been eight years in the making, but DeRidder and Beauregard Parish now has a “megasite.” And with it comes the promise of thousands of jobs for the area.

Don Pierson, secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, said this is the second megasite in Louisiana, after Alexandria. He was in town Monday for the groundbreaking ceremony, which was held at New Life Baptist Church, adjacent to the megasite.

Pierson explained what a megasite is.

“A site that’s well situated for a large parcel purchase by a major industry that needs a significanty amount of real estate,” he said.

This site, just outside of DeRidder city limits near the airport, has 1,100 acres. That’s above the 1,000-acre threshold to qualify it as a megasite, and an area of land that large is enough to attract large industry here, Pierson said.

Not only that, it is well situated near an airport, close to a rail line, and on a major road, which is exactly what businesses need for easy access. It also has ready access to utility lines.

The area has also been certified, or recognized by the state as being ready for use. That means business looking to come to town don’t have to worry about a long list of things, such as the environment, easements, boundaries and more, Pierson said.

Businesses don’t have much time to examine a site, so knowing this in advance makes the Beauregard Parish site that much more competitive.

“All the elements required to support an industry are present, and that’s what goes into the certification. And with that in hand, the site is then ready on the shelf for consideration. And we can be confident in representing it to national and international companies,” he said.

Pierson added that most of the industry has come into the Lake Charles area, which has benefited from a ship channel dug in the 1920s. Other areas further inland have been left behind.

Now that Beauregard has the megasite, that will make the area that much more attractive, he said.

“Now, you have a reason to set yourself apart and get more consideration, which will lead to success, which will lead to those jobs,” Pierson said. “You’ve brought yourself to a whole new platform here.”

Donna G. Little, director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, said the site is designed mainly for large industry. However, small businesses also benefit because they will become vendors supporting the major industries that come to town.

There are other benefits.

“The large vendors will bring in employees, and that will mean haircuts and gumbo and new cars. And [they’ll] buy houses. So it’s an opportunity for locally owned small business to participate in the economic development,” she said.

George Swift, president and chief executive officer of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, said the state has officially certified the airport property.

“This means that it’s ready to go; there are no issues that inhibit growth. And the fact that over 1,100 acres have been certified makes it a megasite,” he said. “This is ideal for large industrial projects, and it could be carved up into smaller projects. So we’ve got a lot of acreage, and we’ve got it certified and ready to go.”

This will mean a lot of jobs. Swift did not have a dollar figure for how much it would benefit the community, but he did say it would be large.

Swift said the city, the parish and the state would promote the site to businesses looking to come to the area. In addition to easy access to transportation, the Beauregard site has the advantage of being “high and dry” in flood-prone Louisiana.

Swift added that the site has been certified. That process took eight years and $130,000, but now that’s been done, the result is a site that will attract a lot of business.

“It’s an exciting way to end 2016,” Swift said.

Ron Roberts, the mayor of DeRidder, recalled a time several years ago when a major business wanted to come to town, and it would have received $1 million in tax benefits to move here. But it never happened simply because the city didn’t have a place for them to move into.

Now that place exists, and Roberts credited the Beauregard Parish jurors for making it happen. Like the parish, the city of DeRidder will also reap the benefits.

“It’s a renaissance. We’ve never had anything like this. We’ve had some wonderful industries, but this will give us the opportunity to have new industry that will equal what we already have. It’s a magnificent thing,” he said.

Rusty Williamson, president and District 2 juror for the Beauregard Parish Police Jury, said he was excited about the megasite.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to get some jobs here in Beauregard Parish. An opportunity for our children to stay at home and work, and not have to go out of state. I just think it’s a wonderful thing, and it’s a win-win for everybody associated with this,” he said.