The Economic Recovery Support Group, one of six task forces known as “Recovery Support Functions,” or RSFs, is part of the Calcasieu Parish Long Term Hurricane Recovery Plan. Each RSF contains major recommendations for the recovery of our parish and region. The other RSF’s are: Community Planning and Capacity Building, Health and Social Services, Housing, Infrastructure, and Natural and Cultural Resources.
The Economic RSF is a plan that will ensure our region’s businesses return and grow. Lack of affordable housing continues to be the dominant issue in personal and business recovery. With several thousand area residents still displaced due to lack of housing, this greatly impacts the ability of area businesses to find workers. There are other reasons for lack of workers but housing is at the forefront.
The Calcasieu Economic Plan calls for:
Federal small business and economic development grants to benefit both urban and rural areas of the parish.
Grants to small businesses and to support entrepreneurship.
Boost entrepreneurship through the SEED Center and McNeese University.
Explore and capitalize on funding water, sewerage, road access, and broadband availability.
The plan further outlines enhancing existing assets: invest in and revitalize the parish’s urban center; reimagine the lakefront amphitheater in order to accommodate paid concerts, festivals, farmers markets, and other events; upgrade and harden all utility infrastructure to reduce outages after a disaster; continued investment in infrastructure upgrades and development of industrial parks such as those at Chennault Industrial Airpark, the Port of Lake Charles, and the West Calcasieu Port; organize campaigns to improve the appearance of major thoroughfares to attract both investors and talent (people) to the region; develop main corridors through incentives to revitalize areas; require more resilient building standards based on sound data.
Also in the economic plan is a call for coordination, collaboration, and education: There is a need to publish consumer information (pamphlets/website) for education of the general public about insurance issues. The lack of knowledge by consumers on insurance policies and issues has caused major problems for homeowners and businesses. Thousands of our workers will need new skills to find a job. A solution is continuing to align degree programs to meet current needs of the regional economy, while expanding into more desired or needed occupations. A focus on sectors of the economy to research business opportunities will diversify the SWLA economy incorporating all regional parishes.
A partnership with the Convention and Visitors Bureau for tourism and hospitality focused campaigns, would be aimed at attracting tourists and well as diversifying the region’s tourism sector. Also in the plan is to conduct a review and evaluation of future use for vacant property set for demolition.
These are many of the ideas and just the tip of the iceberg, but the parish recovery plan is a comprehensive guide to the future sustainability of our region.
The Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, the region’s economic development lead agency, will serve as the champion to lead the pursuit of business recovery and expansion opportunities.