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.
It is astounding to consider that multi-billion dollar developments are occurring in an area that not too long ago had to fight for relevance after being decimated by Hurricanes Rita and Ike in 2005 and 2008. Those storms destroyed almost 100 percent of the homes in the parish and forced many residents to leave the parish temporarily or permanently.
Today, liquid natural gas (LNG) production is the catalyst for the mega financial investments made in Cameron Parish, but the local’s economic growth also bolstered by agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting.
Some of the data facts that make Cameron Parish stand out include:
• From 2013 to 2014 Cameron had the fastest growing GDP of any county/parish in the country out of 3,113. The GDP grew 67.1 percent in one year.
• In the last two years, Cameron Parish has experienced a 1,992 percent increase in jobs.
• Workers in Cameron Parish have the highest weekly salary in the state at $1,900 per week.
Louisiana State Representative Ryan Bourriaque is impressed by what has occurred in Cameron Parish. Prior to being elected to the Louisiana Legislature, Bourriaque worked as the parish’s administrator and remembers the difficulties created by the storms.
He said hard work and a ‘never give’ up attitude exhibited by residents is the foundation of the economic growth coupled with assets like water, land, and region-wide access to temporary and permanent workers for the mega LNG projects.
“I think it is interesting that Cameron Parish has been involved in the initial LNG wave for constructing import facilities in the mid-2000s then undergoing two devastating storm events and being at the forefront of the transition from import facilities to export facilities,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize how critical a role Cameron Parish has played. People in the industry do.”
Companies that are exporting natural gas out of Cameron Parish are Chenier LNG and Cameron LNG. Commonwealth LNG, Driftwood LNG, G2 LNG, Magnolia LNG, Monkey Island LNG, Delphin LNG, and Venture Global LNG are in different phases of the planning and regulatory process for projects in the parish.
Bourriaque believes more success is on the horizon.
“As long as we can show the community is benefiting and will continue to benefit from investments and we do our job to make sure it happens we are giving our people a chance for a bright future,” he said.
George Swift, the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance/Chamber SWLA’s President and CEO believes Cameron Parish is a success story.
“It is probably the biggest recovery story in the nation. Cameron Parish was devastated and now is the LNG capital of the United States. Activities that occur in Cameron impact the global energy market,” he said. “Jobs that pay good salaries are a part of the fabric of a community. Cameron Parish is leading in jobs creation in the state.”
As LNGs expand, more chances for locals to obtain contracts and sub-contracts during construction and for other trade and professional services are created. Growth also leads to new infrastructure projects that will help serve the industries and the public.
“Efforts and foundations were laid a long time ago and are coming to fruition all at the same time,” Bourriaque said. “That is the type of impact all of the growth is providing for future generations that we may have not anticipated for or expected.”
Clair Hebert Marceaux, the Cameron Parish Port, Harbor and Terminal District’s Director, views the parish as being vital for industry and protection for southwest Louisiana. She is an advocate for the parish’s economic growth and restored coastline.
“Cameron provides a buffer for storm surge. We have to make sure the coastline is restored and protected,” she said.
In Marceaux’s opinion, Cameron’s future is tied to addressing infrastructure, training high school students and adults and creating pathways for more retail and commercial businesses.
“All of those issues are ones we can overcome,” she said.
Overall, the driving force of Cameron’s present and future is sparked by a mindset both Marceaux and Bourriaque (both are from Cameron Parish) agree upon.
“We have a can-do attitude,” Marceaux said.