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Area economic outlook remains strong

Posted by: George Swift on Tuesday, October 1, 2019

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.

The Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area, known as an MSA, includes Calcasieu and Cameron parishes. This MSA has been the fastest growing in the entire country. The boom began in 2014 when Sasol and other industries began construction.

Just as a point of reference, in 1992 there were $1.6 billion in projects and that was referred to as “unusually large.” Now we have over $111 billion in announcements, with $53.7 billion (48%) already constructed or underway. According to Scott, because of completed construction on several projects, data indicates that for the first six months of 2019, our MSA’s employment has essentially gone flat, projected to increase by only 500 jobs.

Scott says Lake Charles is now in a lull between projects. This will change with new projects beginning construction. For example, Venture Global in Cameron issued its final investment decision (FID) on its $5.8 billion LNG export terminal and is under construction. Construction on other LNG facilities such as Driftwood LNG, Lake Charles LNG, and Magnolia LNG should be getting underway within a few months.

The forecast for the Lake Charles MSA is projecting 3,000 new jobs (+2.5%), followed by 3,800 new jobs (+3.1%) in 2021. The U.S. employment generally rises at about a 1.3% rate, so if Scott’s forecast is on track, our area will grow 2 to 2½ times faster than the national economy.

Therefore, our MSA will resume the position of being the fastest growing in the state. Additional boosts will come from Chennault Airpark and the aviation sector, gaming and hospitality, and of course, our mainstay, the petrochemical industry — including activities at our ports, especially the Port of Lake Charles.

Jeff Davis has landed several projects. Beauregard is experiencing strong housing growth. Allen Parish is anchored by the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana as a major economic driver.

The LNG industry is a key factor in our region’s growth. At the state economic development organization, LIDEA, held last week at L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles, one of the presenters was Maury Hudson of Magnolia LNG and Chairman of LEEA, the Louisiana Energy Export Association, which is managed by the Alliance. Hudson said that with the LNG production from our area, our region will rank third among all nations in LNG production.

With the leadership of Mayor Nic Hunter and the hard work of Kyle Edmiston and the Lake Charles/SWLA Convention and Visitors Bureau, the 18th America’s Summit World LNG and Gas Series will be held in Lake Charles Nov. 8-11, 2020. This major event will be hosted at the Golden Nugget and is expected to bring in more than 350 C-Suite attendees. The cooperation of several agencies made this happen. Those are the City of Lake Charles, the CVB, Port of Lake Charles, Cameron Parish Police Jury, Cameron Parish Port, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the SWLA Alliance.

Our region continues great economic fortune but we are impacted by world, national, and state and local events, including elections.

Working together as a region will continue to strengthen us, and will minimize negative impacts and maximize opportunities for all of our residents.

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