Nederland EDC to give LaBrie a chance to continue the airport project


The Nederland Economic Development Corp. should give local developer Henry LaBrie a chance – another chance, in fact – to show what he can do with plans for more development on land near the Jack Brooks Regional Airport. This type of construction has been discussed and promised for years, without any results. LaBrie says he’s ready – now, not later – to shake things up. It has also a proven track record in construction throughout the region.

All of this makes LaBrie the best option to move forward with the project known as “The Landing”. If another developer shows up with firm plans, EDC should listen. But no such competition has surfaced yet, and it’s unclear when or if that might happen.

LaBrie’s plans seem serious. He wants to invest $ 3.6 million in the project. He even boldly declares: “I would like to be one of the biggest taxpayers in the Netherlands. We just have to move the process forward. I think we’ll get there.

If successful, the project could generate annual revenues of $ 360,000 for the city of Nederland, $ 202,000 for Jefferson County and $ 169,000 for the Nederland ISD. Needless to say, this money would be welcome by each of these entities.

That doesn’t mean EDC should give LaBrie or any developer a blank check. All I’s must be pointed and all T’s must be crossed out on any contract. In fact, EDC is already trying to figure out how to deal with a minor problem that has developed.

EDC typically doesn’t offer incentives once construction on a project has started, and it shouldn’t. This is how an incentive is supposed to work – to encourage something that might not otherwise happen. But LaBrie has already started digging a holding pond on the property. this is not the site in itself, but it is a kind of site work.

LaBrie’s property manager said no underground work had been done and no foundation was poured. LaBrie even offered to backfill the excavated land to restore it to its original condition. It shouldn’t be necessary. But if EDC legal counsel says it should be done, throw the dirt back, wait a moment, then move on.

EDC’s next board meeting is scheduled for December 17, when it will decide whether or not to incent LaBrie and, if so, by how much. LaBrie has completed his candidacy package and is awaiting the board’s decision.

A key point of these proposals is that airport ownership has real potential. It is located just north of Mid-County but still close to Beaumont – just off US 69. The site has easy access and many potential customers nearby – or by car – and not all plots can not claim these benefits.

LaBrie deserves a fair chance to show what he can do with this property. If he can meet EDC’s criteria for help, he should receive it. Again, apparently no other potential developer is looking at this land now. In business and in many other fields, one bird in one hand is worth two in the bush.

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