Business and workforce development opportunities abound in Southwest Louisiana.
What is even more impressive is that our five-parish area has the chance to diversify its economic climate with new business sectors that pave the way for entrepreneurs. Technology and innovation are the driving force for the cur-rent and future economy. Local businesses and agencies are encouraged to investigate ways to engage in new technology enterprises that will keep the region on the cutting edge of national and international business trends.
- a Liquid Natural Gas development is occurring with jobs and auxiliary business opportunities developing.
- a The fully developed petro and petrochemical sectors still have job opportunities and a need for businesses that service the industry.
- a Our hospitality industry, which prior to the hurricanes of 2020 employed over 20,000 people and which supported a
- $700 million business sector, is being rehabilitated and growing. In the near future, the region will have a new casino-hotel with hundreds of jobs and procurement opportunities.
- a Louisiana is in the process of expanding Internet services to un-served and underserved areas. Companies that provide digitized services need technicians. Inter-net access opens the door for new entrepreneurs.
The use of adaptive technology, artificial intelligence, and other advances are going to be at the core of how those sectors grow in the near future.
Jonathan Dean, the Alliance/Chamber SWLA’s new vice president of economic development, has been observing local, state, national, and inter-national economic trends trend and has some important insights for the Southwest Louisiana community.
“I believe that South-west Louisiana has the potential of having the best of both worlds. Geopolitical forces in Europe highlight how our petrochemical and LNG industries are critical to the world economy and at the same time with funding from various state and federal sources we can be a leader in the clean energy and technology Industries,” he said
“Louisiana, I believe, will be a leader in carbon sequestration because of our petrochemical industry and the ability to capture bi-products from those plants to reduce their carbon footprint. It is vital that we have the next generation of trained workforce to adapt to our rapidly changing world. Southwest Louisiana can remain a leader in the petrochemical and LNG sectors and be an innovator in the changes in the technological world that are taking place. We can look to Europe as a classic example of what happens when you put all of your eggs in one basket.”
Dean adds that locals would be warranted in paying attention to current broadband expansion.
“The Gumbo Broad-band initiative opens up entrepreneurial opportunities in rural communities that were previously unavailable. Broadband will open up market opportunities that were previously unavailable due to the lack of technology-based infrastructure.”
Lastly, the burgeoning electric vehicle sector is one the region should prepare for.
“On the federal level, the Bi-partisan Infrastructure Bill and Inflation Reduction Act provide funding opportunities for electric vehicle charging stations and carbon sequestration,” he said. “All a person has to do is view or read business news reports to understand that large companies are investing in research/development, production and maintenance of electric cars and the infrastructure needed to service them. We are at the cusp of a moment similar to when horses gave way to the Model T.”
Our world is evolving fast. Getting educated to meet the workforce needs of the future is imperative. Southwest Louisiana has many economic development wins and to continue those successes; we all need to pay attention to market changes and adapt.
George Swift is president/CEO of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. Contact him at 337-433-3632.