Southwest Louisiana has enjoyed an era of robust capital investment and economic growth over the past six years. All economic indicators for our region are trending in a positive direction. We have much for which to be thankful in the wake of this phenomenal growth.
To better serve the needs of businesses in our region, McNeese State University and the SWLA Economic Development Alliance have partnered to fund the H. C. Drew Center for Business and Economic Analysis. Daniel Groft, PhD in economics, heads the center as the director, and is an assistant professor in the school of business. Groft was previously on the faculty at McNeese, and returns to SW La. after serving as economist for Louisiana Economic Development and Louisiana Department of Revenue.
The Drew Center is organized to collect and analyze data from a variety of local, regional, national and international sources. This data is entered into customized economic models to generate forecasting information critical to making business decisions for both the near and long terms.
On Dec. 12, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released gross domestic product (GDP) figures for 2018 disaggregated to the local metropolitan statistical area (MSA). GDP is essentially a measure of all production. The BEA is an agency of the federal Department of Commerce and is one of the world’s leading statistical agencies. The data takes nearly a year to gather and synthesize into the various reports, including the GDP by MSA.
Annual GDP data for the Lake Charles MSA, which composes all of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, grew from $12.3 billion in 2013 to $16.3 billion in 2018. This is an increase of over 32% in annual GDP for our area over the six-year timeframe.
Groft has incorporated this BEA data and US Census data to calculate the average amount of real GDP per citizen. After entering the Census and GDP data for all of the nearly 400 MSAs in the United States, 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.
The SWLA Economic Development Alliance works to recruit, expand, and retain the manufacturing businesses that employ our citizens and produce goods for global markets. We look forward to reporting more economic trends generated by the Drew Center as the second wave of industrial expansion unfolds.
The Alliance is funded by public and private organizations which make annual investments to pay for our regional economic development programs. This efficient system eliminates duplication and saves tax dollars for each city and parish, by combining resources. Since 2006, the Alliance has worked regionally to serve Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis parishes. It’s appropriate that as we end 2019, we thank these organizations which have stepped up to invest in our future. Keeping the economy strong in our region is our major goal. We also focus on decreasing our poverty rate, improving the quality of life, and preparing our region for future generations.
Thank you for your support. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a prosperous New Year from the SWLA Economic Development Alliance.