Downtown Minden’s newest restaurant Geaux Fresh will be the first to benefit from new Tax Increment Financing Districts created to encourage economic development.

At the December Minden City council meeting, a resolution was passed which will allow the business to use funds generated by a two percent sales tax charged at the business.

801 Broadway has new owners and renovations are nearly complete as Geaux Fresh Bistro and Bakery and Security Pro prepare to open mid-December.

Owner Jodi Martin opened doors to the restaurant last week. She declined to comment on how participating in the TIF program might help her business.

According to the resolution, the revenue the tax generates at Geaux Fresh must be spent at the business location and the restaurant must have at least four full time employees or face a reduction in funds.

“What is unique about TIF, is there is a requirement that makes business owners hire local people,” said James Graham, economic director for the city. “If local people cannot be found with a needed skill set, then all hires must relocate to Minden.”

Geaux Fresh’s initial project consist of acquiring, renovation and development of 801 Broadway, a 4,100 square foot building.

The budget for $100,000 of reimbursable expenses includes $85,000 for the purchase of the building, $5,000 for demolition, $279,000 for renovation and $25,000 for legal and professional fees. The projected total cost of the project is $394,000.
The additional 2 percent sales tax at Geaux Fresh will be levied starting January 1.

The Webster Parish Sales and Use Tax Commission mailed out a letter to property owners in TIF districts, reminding them to begin forwarding the additional tax beginning in January.

While Geaux Fresh is the first project to receive council approval, Graham said other plans that may be in developmental stages with the consortium, which is made of members appointed by the city council to manage TIF district funds.

“It is a private non-profit established by the city,” he said. “It becomes public knowledge when it goes before the council for approval. This way investors can protect their plans while working with leaders to develop.”

The Consortium is a 501(c)3 private, nonprofit organization, comprised of a board of directors of five people, each one representing one of the five TIF districts. Graham will serve as the Consortium’s executive director. It will manage the TIF districts on behalf of the city and on behalf of the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“This Consortium will also be working with individuals who want to start up or expand a small business,” he said. “It will also be working on commercial real estate projects.”

The four TIF Districts have sales and occupancy taxes of an additional 2 percent levied, bringing sales tax at those businesses to 12.5 percent.

Funds generated by the taxes will stay in the district it was collected and used to fund projects and fund incentives to help lure business.

“Small business is the backbone of Minden, as it is for a lot of communities, but particularly Minden,” he said. “Most of the businesses are home-based, and some of them grew to be larger, hiring hundreds of people. So now we want to start that tradition again.”

Graham said in addition to projects using TIF revenue, there are other economic development tools offered by the city of Minden.

“TIF is something relatively new and is very unique for a city the size of Minden to offer,” he said. “There are additional incentives available for people to have business in Minden. These tools help put us in a position to be ready for growth.”