In 1971, the London-Laurel County Industrial Development Authority was formed to secure and develop industrial parks and provide new locations for companies like Laurel Grocery, Walmart Distribution Center and Aisin Automotive Casting.

Now almost 50 years later and with seven industrial parks, the LLCIDA is modifying its name to better reflect its mission in today’s rapidly-changing business environment.

The LLCIDA has now become the London-Laurel County Economic Development Authority, LLCEDA, a change supported and approved by the city and county governments to align the authority with the work it’s currently doing to bring jobs to the area.

“The pattern has changed. The focus has changed. No longer is it just about industrial parks,” said Paula Thompson, executive director of the economic development authority. “Over the years we have broadened our role to support not only the traditional industrial development efforts, but also non-traditional economic projects like retail that bring jobs to the area.”

Several industrial development authorities across the state are making similar name changes.

Thompson and the authority were instrumental in securing and supporting the recent redevelopment of the former Kmart building, that so far has created 230 jobs in four new retail stores. Thompson worked the phones to help the developer navigate the difficult licensing process, and later helped the stores find employees.

“In doing economic development, the retail businesses need someone to go for support,” she said. “They need someone to be that conduit to help them find a location, to help them expand, to help them find a workforce. That’s currently taking a large percentage of my time.”

Changing the name to London-Laurel County Economic Development Authority more accurately reflects these new roles. Also, economic development encompasses all job creators from manufacturing, distribution, retail and service industries.

“We want the name to catch up to what we’re doing,” Thompson said. “A job is a job. And that’s still our mission—to create jobs, to grow jobs, and to retain jobs.”

The newly-rebranded LLEDA works creatively with partners such as the Laurel County Fiscal Court, the London City Council, London-Laurel County Chamber of Commerce, London and Laurel County Tourism offices, Cumberland’s Workforce Development and others to expand economic development activities and fulfill its mission.