Allow this to serve as my introduction and give my impressions of Southwest Louisiana since joining the Alliance in April of this year. As Vice President of Economic Development for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, it’s my job to promote economic opportunities for all in our five parishes of Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis. Prior to joining the Alliance I worked for 7 years with Pineville based Utility CLECO in their Industrial Account and Economic Development Departments. From 2011-2014 I was the Mayor of the Town of Ball, the third largest municipality in Rapides Parish in Central Louisiana. I am a 1996 Graduate of Northwestern State University with a degree in Business Administration. In 2018 I graduated from the University of Central Arkansas Community Development Institute. In that same year I received my Certified Louisiana Economic Developer Designation as well as my Professional Community Economic Developer Designation. In October of 2020 I graduated from the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute. I am married to my wife Amanda and have a son and two grandchildren.
As for my impressions of Southwest Louisiana, I have learned that the region’s people are tough, resilient, and hardworking. They make contributions to our local, state, national, and international economies. The region has an impressive network of ports known as the Southwest Louisiana Port Network that make significant contributions to the economy and open markets worldwide to the business community. The Port Of Lake Charles is an economic powerhouse that helps fuel our national economy. The 11 th largest port tonnage wise in the country, The Port of Lake Charles contributes $39 billion to United States gross domestic product according to a recent report commissioned by the port. The Cameron Parish Port and Terminal District is another major economic contributor. Fifty percent of the Liquefied natural gas exported from the United States is exported from the Cameron Parish. We not only heat the world, we feed the world. Farmers’ Rice Mill here in Lake Charles has been in operation for 105 years. The new state of the art South Louisiana Rail Facility is nearing completion of the $21 million rice mill in Lacassine. Louisiana is the 3rd largest rice producing state in the country. Our petrochemical industry has been the backbone of the region’s economy for almost 80 years with companies such as Citgo, LyondellBasell, Westlake Chemical, Phillips 66, and Lotte, among those leading the way. Our timber Industry is strong with companies such as Roy O. Martin, PCA, and Boise Cascade employing thousands in the area. Interfor recently reopened the former Georgia Pacific Mill in DeQuincy and Canfor has a $160 Million state of the art lumber mill under construction in DeRidder. This is a testament to the abundant timber stock and workforce that the region has. Forestry is the 2 nd largest employer in the state and timber covers half of Louisiana. Our region has had its challenges the last two years but we are building momentum that will make us even stronger. Southwest Louisiana's best days are ahead. I’m excited to be here and bullish on our future.