"Our goal is to continue to grow the economy so we all benefit," said President and CEO of Ascension Economic Development Corporation Kate MacArthur.

The Ascension Parish School Board approves industrial tax exemptions for businesses within the parish. The unanimous vote from both the budget committee and the full board comes after residents filed a lawsuit against the Parish Council for approving the same exemptions.

About 20 people made public comments at the meetings. Members of Together Louisiana argued that the companies receiving the credits have not been named and the public should have a say in how public dollars are spent.

"The people need a voice in what goes on behind closed doors," said Ava Smith.

But Executive Director of the Business Retention and Expansion Program Melanie Woodworth said the proposals are fully vetted before they are brought before the board. She said Louisiana Economic Development and Ascension Economic Development Corporation approve the projects and establish requirements that must be met to receive the tax breaks. She added there is legislation in place that protects the confidentiality of the companies until the exemptions are approved.

Representatives from Ascension Economic Development noted incentives like these tax breaks keep the parish competitive as companies search for new site locations. The case was also made that not only do corporations pay their own taxes, the people they employ pay taxes as well.

"Our goal is to continue to grow the economy so we all benefit," said President and CEO of Ascension Economic Development Corporation Kate MacArthur.

The four projects total $462 million in industrial tax exemptions that will result in 32 new jobs. Together Louisiana made the case the investment is too large for the number of jobs created and stated that members want to see criteria established for how credits are awarded.

Despite opposition, the proposals were approved without objection.

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