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Evidence of resilience and rebounding in SW La.

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The last two weeks have seen some major projects take shape which give credibility to the belief, that despite massive hurricane damage, our region is on the rebound. 

In Beauregard Parish, one of the first major industrial announcements in over forty years was made.  Canfor Corporation will build a $160 million state of the art lumber mill at the Louisiana Economic Development Certified Site at the Beauregard Regional Airport in DeRidder. This facility will create 130 jobs and 385 indirect jobs. This also breaks the ice on a project for the airport which should lead to more industrial expansion on the 1,100 acre mega-site. 

SW La. still swinging for the fences

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Before international pandemic and natural disasters impacted the fiveparish area’s day-to-day life, Southwest Louisiana was leading the nation for markets our size in gross domestic product.

We also were the crème de la crème in industrial announcements.

Many have wondered if our region can regain its momentum in economic development.

The answer is a resounding YES!

Infrastructure week highlights crisis

Posted by: George Swift on Thursday, May 20, 2021

Last week focused attention on the growing need for investment in our crumbling roads and bridges. “United for Infrastructure 2021: A week to Champion America’s Infrastructure” had a major development for a new I-10 Bridge in Lake Charles. One week after President’s Biden’s visit to Lake Charles to make the case for an Infrastructure bill with the I-10 Bridge in the background, The Lake Charles Urbanized Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (LCMPO) passed a resolution regarding the desires of the local group to be presented to LADOT.

United for infrastructure week

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Nowhere in the nation are there more needs per capita than in Louisiana and Southwest Louisiana with outdated bridges and roads. State DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson says there are over $14 billion in projects needed in the state. This backlog can’t continue and action needs to be taken. President Biden has presented a solution in The American Jobs Act. Included are many components but among those is $600 billion for roads and bridges. Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter joined with Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins to issue a joint letter discussing the need for federal infrastructure support. The two mayors stated there are roughly 13,000 bridges in the state. One thousand six hundred or 12 percent are deemed structurally deficient. Louisiana receives a D+ on its infrastructure scorecard. There are currently 3,411 miles of high in poor condition, costing drivers over $667 in repairs every year.

Rebuilding Southwest Louisiana...With Intention and Inclusion Is Necessary

Posted by: Eric Cormier on Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Rebuilding a local or regional community/economy after a pandemic or natural disaster is difficult and complex.

No matter how much planning government and business leaders may have done prior to the troubles, the eventuality is that slow and spirit deflating moments become the reality.

After eight months, time to take responsibility

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Our region has endured perhaps more than any other in our nation with two powerful hurricanes and an ice storm amid a worldwide pandemic.  Despite these challenges, Southwest Louisiana continues to thrive.  Our industrial base is strong, our aviation sector is growing, the hospitality industry is rebounding, our vital medical community continues to be the area’s largest employment sector, and agriculture is still the foundation for our region.

Hurricane Recovery In Lake Charles, Louisiana Region Will Be Successful Only With Planning and Regionalization

Posted by: Eric Cormier on Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Southwest Louisiana finds itself in almost the same situation as it did after Hurricane Rita wrought destruction in 2005.

Rita, which caused an estimated $18 billion in damage along the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean, had a negative impact to the tune of $8 million in Louisiana.  

Infrastructure crucial for SW La. and nation

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Fixing roads and bridges should be a nonpartisan issue. However, the political climate on the national and state legislative fronts has turned infrastructure into another divisive issue. The needs in our nation and especially here in Southwest Louisiana must be addressed without further delay. Failure to act not only impedes commerce, but puts our lives in danger.

In the 1920s Calcasieu Parish Rose Above Problems and Built for the Future...the Port of Lake Charles Was the Result

Posted by: Eric Cormier on Tuesday, March 30, 2021

In the 1920s, Lake Charles and the surrounding areas were feeling the painful effects of a struggling lumber industry, a rice depression, post-World War One economic problems, namely two recessions, rebuilding from the Great Fire of 1910 and a Category 3 Hurricane in 1918.      

American rescue plan can save our businesses

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Congress passed and President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion act known as The American Rescue Plan. Regardless of your political or philosophical beliefs about the size of the bill or the items contained in the plan, Southwest Louisiana will benefit tremendously from this legislation.

We urge every businesses owner and especially every restaurant owner to check out the benefits.

Embracing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Will Lead to a Rebuilt and Vibrant Southwest Louisiana

Posted by: Eric Cormier on Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Pandemic, hurricanes and winter storms have pushed many businesses to the brink.

All of us who serve in Chamber and economic development roles anxiously await information related to recovery, loan and grant programs that will benefit our communities. We will share that information and provide assistance to anyone in need.

More small business assistance available

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Our region is fortunate to be home to dozens of industries that not only provide good-paying careers, but also make financial contributions for the well-being of our area. No company has exemplified this any greater than Cheniere Energy.

Chamber SWLA, Alliance work for our region

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Impacts of the disastrous year 2020 remain with us in 2021. 

COVID impact is still with us as vaccine supplies increase. Full reopening of our businesses and activities are possible when we bring the disease until control.

Infrastructure could unite America

Posted by: George Swift on Wednesday, January 20, 2021

There is a major issue that is badly needed and could possibly unite our elected officials in Washington. That issue is finally taking action on our country’s crumbling infrastructure. Southwest Louisiana is the poster child for outdated and unsafe bridges with the I-10 Bridge over the Calcasieu River at Lake Charles. Built in 1952, this bridge has been in service many years past its lifespan and certainly exceeds its designed vehicle capacity every day.

Reasons for optimism in 2021

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, January 5, 2021

As we gladly say goodbye to 2020, there are numerous reasons for having a positive outlook about the new year. An Axios/Survey Monkey online poll finds that more than six in 10 Americans are hopeful about 2021. 76 percent were more hopeful than fearful about the pandemic in this year. 63 percent of respondents to the poll said they’re more hopeful than fearful about what 2021 holds in store for the world

A pathway for small business assistance

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy by employing about 50 percent of the workforce. For our area economy to recover from the impact of COVID and two hurricanes, it’s necessary for our small businesses to get back in full operation.

At the SWLA Alliance, we are working to help our businesses and industries keep on the path to rebuilding.

Everyone Can Play A Role In Economic Development

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Our region led the nation in industrial projects in recent years until the covid slowdown, oil crisis, and impact of two major hurricanes. Southwest Louisiana still has several major industrial projects in the pipeline and we are confident there will be construction starts in 2021 or early 2022. 

Small Business Saturday Is Prime Opportunity to Impact the Local Community

Posted by: Eric Cormier on Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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.

Economic Outlook Positive For SWLA

Posted by: Eric Cormier on Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The year 2020 will never leave our collective memory.

Business Recovery Center gets assistance

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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.

Our SW La. businesses need help right now

Posted by: George Swift on Sunday, September 27, 2020

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.


Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

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. 

SWLA Economic Development Alliance Focused on Business Recovery

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, September 8, 2020
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. Cameron now has Cheniere LNG, Cameron LNG, and Venture Global LNG under construction. For the most part, the government buildings in Cameron survived, so they have a foundation to build on, unlike before. Likewise in Calcasieu Parish, we have over 20 industrial facilities which are or will be operating soon, and many other resources to draw upon.
Yes, we have been knocked down like never before, but our spirit and dedication will see us through.
If we are work together we will Rebuild SWLA , better and stronger than before.

La. economic development strong despite challenges

Posted by: George Swift on Monday, August 17, 2020

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 business impact of coronavirus

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, August 4, 2020

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.

COVID-19 and Hurricane Season Preparation Are a Must

Posted by: Eric Cormier on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

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.

Restaurants need financial assistance and our support

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, July 21, 2020

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.

Government works despite divide

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, July 7, 2020

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.

Historic Challenges Face Southwest Louisiana

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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 in SW La.

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

“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.

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