For those observing the calendar, 2020 is coming to an end. For most of us, this year of pandemic and hurricanes cannot end quickly enough.
Business owners – from small to large corporations – have had to adapt in ways unimaginable. COVID-19 alone has shown us that adjustment and brain power are needed to survive. The storms which blew through our local have forced both customers and business owners to rethink how goods and services are going to be provided today and those changes could remain into the future.
The year 2020 will never leave our collective memory.
When SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza visited the SEED Center Sept. 22, a plea was made for SBA counselors to help. It took a while and with prodding from Sen. Bill Cassidy, we now have the help we need.
Last week, the U.S. Small Business Administration sent counselors to help with one-on-one assistance for businesses. Director Tanya Garfield of the SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West said the center will provide a one stop location for businesses to access a variety of specialized help.
Without help, a lot of our valuable businesses will close. Not only do these businesses provide goods and services for us, they employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. Local governments also benefit from badly need sales and property tax to offset the unexpected expenses incurred from Laura.
Our five-parish region of Southwest Louisiana has been severely impacted by the triple threat of COVID-19, Hurricane Laura with more hurricanes possible, and the election-year economy.
Just remember this. The fighting entrepreneurial spirit of Southwest Louisiana helped build the ship channel. We have survived several Hurricanes including Audrey, Rita, Ike, and Gustav. We are called to rebuild again.
The coronavirus impact, economic crash, low oil prices, and strong competition from other states pushed organizations such as our Alliance to the limits.
On the state level, efforts are “led” by LED, the Louisiana Economic Development Department. Appointed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, Don Pierson, a long-time economic development professional and friend of Southwest Louisiana, serves as secretary. In the last few months, the agency has operated on fast-evolving multiple tracks.
The impact of coronavirus is devastating to many aspects of our lives. First and foremost is the impact of over 3,800 deaths in Louisiana and over 170 deaths in our five- parish region alone. The loss and sorrow to the families will always be with us. Thousands more have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Good business leaders prepare for hurricane season because it makes sense and allows an enterprise to operate utilizing specific guidelines prior to and after a weather event.
Business owners know, even if their operations are suspended or facilities are destroyed, there is a good possibility that the culmination of good planning, loans, government assistance and hard work will allow them to resume operations again.
Posted from the American Press, July 21, 2020
This is not a “Help Wanted” ad for restaurants, even though many do need workers.
This message is about the need for customer support and financial assistance to keep many restaurants in business.
As we have just completed our nation’s 244th Fourth of July Celebration, this is a good time to pause and reflect on our nation’s system of government. In 2020, we are going through extremely difficult times. There’s the COVID-19 pandemic, the crash of our economy, the oil crisis, global issues, the Black Lives Matter movement, and a sharp political divide in our country.
The mission of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance is to be the regional leader for business and workforce development resulting in improved quality of life for all residents in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis parishes. The mission of the Chamber SWLA is to serve as the voice for the regional business community.
“Welcome to Opportunity” was used by the Alliance in our international marketing for several years. In spite of all the challenges of current times, this still may be an excellent theme.
In order to move forward, it’s good to look at our history, what we need to do today, and to present a vision for the future. In January of this year, our five-parish region was leading the nation with growth. Low unemployment, multi-billion and multi-million dollar investments had been made and a qualified workforce led to the area developing the reputation as one of the most dynamic regions in the United States.
As business owners race to open and begin servicing clients and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, some are trying to figure out if their enterprises are viable while others are closing permanently. In recent weeks, economic developers, investors, business strategist, life coaches, etc. have been sharing a message with the world business community. Essentially, the idea is that times are changing and common business practices and models are quickly becoming part of our past. This is not the first time business sectors have had to reshape and customize themselves to societal shifts and economic downturns.
Friday May 15, 2020, will be remembered as the day that Louisiana began to re-open after the March 16 Stay-at-Home order by the governor. In our region, perhaps more businesses and industries continued operation than most other states.
Our industrial plants continued operation, a number of grocery, building supply, and retail big boxes remained opened after being deemed essential. Many restaurants continued to operate with pick-up and delivery options, and drive-thru restaurants probably had record sales. Most folks came to believe that all businesses are essential including hair and nail salons, gyms, and retail shops including the mall.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is issuing a proclamation that will allow more businesses to open up Friday. This effort will go a long way in getting the state economy functioning after being paralyzed for almost two months due to COVID-19.
The results of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact all of us. The business community has been severely affected, with many closed. Therefore, thousands of our friends and neighbors in our region are out of work. The priority for all should be health and safety. It is imperative that we follow the recommendations of our medical community and continue to practice social distancing, frequent handwashing, and other steps to insure that the virus does not widely spread. Our region has fared better than some but we have had too many cases and deaths from the coronavirus.
Our region continues to lead the nation in industrial projects. Over $44 billion in projects are completed or wrapping up. We are anticipating a second wave of projects to begin this year, keeping in mind, our region is impacted by international events. The Lake Charles MSA (which is Calcasieu and Cameron parishes) is projected to lead the state in job growth the next two years.
If you have thought about opening a business or have a business idea you want to explore, or if you operate an existing business that needs expansion or re-imaging, then next month in SW La. is for you.
To compete internationally our best shot is to keep the regional approach. As has been said …to succeed we must think globally, act locally.
Successful resolution to many issues we face in Southwest Louisiana will require participation in the government process by citizens and the business community, large and small. The Chamber SWLA, part of the Economic Development Alliance, has a very proactive agenda for this first year of a new decade.
The Lake Charles MSA ranked 10th in the nation for 2018 in per capita GDP. The people of SW La. can be justly proud of this accomplishment. It serves as testimony to a region producing goods and services for markets outside our region, which in turn brings more money, jobs and businesses into our local economy.
Voter turnout was very disappointing in our recent major election for governor and all statewide officials, the entire Louisiana Legislature, police jury, sheriff, and local positions. Statewide, about 50 percent of voters turned out, but Calcasieu had about 45 percent turnout in most races. A majority of 45 percent means that about 25-30 percent of our voters chose our elected officials.
Most candidates worked nonstop to earn your vote and they deserved better.
Louisiana’s Certified Sites program was first launched in 2012 to enhance the state’s business-friendly environment and to help attract investors looking to locate and start their operations quickly. The program was first intended for sites of 25 acres or more and was targeted toward heavy industrial projects.
In addition to building the multi-billion dollar industrial mega-projects, construction work on roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, retail shopping, restaurants, hotels, apartment complexes, and residences has created jobs for hundreds of SW La. residents. The goods and services produced and used during this economic boom created a growing economy and more jobs in every employment sector.
Earlier this month, the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitor’s Bureau announced a new branding effort for the region.
Many of our younger generations may not realize that the American economy is fueled by free markets and free enterprise. Southwest Louisiana’s growth was spurred by a visionary entrepreneur, J.B. Watkins. He purchased thousands of acres, marketed it all over the nation, sold property, and according to articles, was basically a one-man chamber of commerce.
The Louisiana Economic Outlook was released last week by LSU Economist, Emeritus, Loren Scott. Again this year, SW La. is projected to lead the state in job growth.
On a daily basis, economists, business developers, and governmental leaders marvel at the indicators (job growth, gross domestic product, sales tax generation, etc.) which regularly demonstrate that Cameron Parish is impacting the local, state and global market.
With recent events at the Port of Lake Charles, the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance/Chamber SWLA believes it is important not to lose sight of the positive impact the Port of Lake Charles has on all of our livelihoods.