Proper Planning Aids Shovel-Ready Site Development

American Rescue Plan Act funds related to certified sites must be used by the end of 2024.

By Kari Williams
From the January/February 2024 Issue


Federal grants and shovel-ready projects go hand-in-hand, and as the U.S. continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, communities are making use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, which must be used by the end of 2024.

American Rescue Plan Act, ARPA, certified sites
(Photo: Adobe Stock / sergign)

Nearly 85% of ARPA funding has been budgeted across 13,000 projects and more than 300 local government entities, according to the Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker, a collaborative project between Brookings Metro, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities.

Of those entities, the ones intending to focus ARPA funds on shovel-ready projects must have solid plans in place to “maximize funding opportunities,” according to Jen Thompson, Chief Development Officer of Capital Strategic Solutions.

“Cities and towns are gaining access to significant amounts of funding opportunities during an unprecedented era of state and federal grant programs,” Thompson said in a 2022 blog post. “Proper planning and positioning themselves to be prepared for this once in a lifetime funding is critically important.”

The following locations are working toward doing just that.

Louisiana’s Cost-Saving, Worry-Free Certified Sites

Louisiana has an expansive portfolio of certified industrial sites ready for development. And while other states may claim the same, none boast a stronger commitment to shovel-ready business investment—or a more rigorous prequalification process—than Louisiana.

Louisiana Economic Development’s (LED) Certified Sites Program sets a high bar, providing a valuable advantage for those looking to invest in the state. By declaring a site’s readiness for development, Louisiana lets potential investors know that much of the startup work has already been handled.

Various stakeholders—from property owners, municipalities, and parishes to economic development organizations, utilities, and ports—recommend a site for certification to LED. The process begins with a staff review of a site’s readiness for development, followed by a formal preliminary assessment, known as an Initial Site Evaluation (ISE), conducted by third-party engineering partners.

American Rescue Plan Act, ARPA, certified sites
Louisiana’s high bar for certified sites provides a valuable advantage for companies like Amazon, which is opening multiple facilities at LED Certified Sites in the state. (Photo: Amazon)


Upon completion of the ISE, all involved parties enter a memorandum of understanding, and request for proposals are issued for qualified engineering firms to competitively bid on performing the required due diligence.

Selected engineering companies inspect the site across a wide range of potential concerns, from clear title evidence to environmental assessments. When all tests and inspections are successfully completed, and LED ensures that all program criteria are met, the site is officially granted the status of a certified site.

Louisiana’s high standard for certification is advantageous for potential investors. Several major national and international companies have benefited from securing certified sites in the state.

  • Amazon. Facility investments in Louisiana by the world’s largest online retailer spread across three certified sites in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Shreveport.
  • First Solar. The largest solar energy manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere chose Louisiana for its fifth American manufacturing facility and will invest up to $1.1 billion to produce high-performance photovoltaic solar modules.
  • Grön Fuels. Sponsored by Fidelis Infrastructure, this planned $9.2 billion renewable diesel fuel production facility on a 141-acre certified site in Baton Rouge will stand upon completion as one of the largest renewable fuel complexes in the world.

Companies investing in Louisiana benefit from a diversified economic base, abundant natural resources, and a nationally recognized workforce program, provided at no cost to qualifying businesses. Further, Louisiana is strategically located as the gateway to the Gulf of Mexico and global markets. It connects 38 interior states through the Mississippi River and hosts six interstate highways, six Class 1 railroads, six deepwater ports, a network of pipelines, and seven primary airports.

Identifying the ideal location is the critical first step to any successful business location decision. And in that category, Louisiana stands out.

Begin your site search today at, which offers Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping technology of available locations, each with its own extensive library of documents and access to map layers for transportation, FEMA data, National Wetlands Inventory and incentive boundaries.

Continue reading…


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here