The economy of the Southwest Louisiana Region is very diverse. Petrochemical and LNG industries are getting the most talk because of the billions in projects underway. The backbone of our region remains agriculture and forestry. Healthcare is growing and, in fact, currently employs more people than any other sector. Hospitality and gaming bring millions of people to our area each year and employ thousands.
At last week’s meeting of the Louisiana Commerce and Industry Board, several speakers presented a progress report on the Sasol Megaproject in Westlake. While there has been much discussion about the benefits of the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program, known as ITEP, when the facts are reviewed, there is no doubt this incentive has been beneficial to our region, to the state and local taxing districts and to the employees who now enjoy quality jobs and a better standard of living.
Disruption is a buzzword we hear often. There is disruption caused by technology, growth, and political issues to name a few. Some of the changes are positive and provide opportunities. Many of the changes are challenging. Recently, I visited our five parishes working on various issues and have a renewed appreciation of the various communities with their individual culture, strength, and needs. Disruption in our region mirrors the national issues. For example, there is a major change taking place in the retail sector with the “Amazon Effect” a major cause.
All seats in the Louisiana Legislature are up for grabs this year along with parish and statewide offices including the governor. Since this is an election year, expectations for solving major issues in the 2019 legislative session were low. Unfortunately, those expectations were correct. In the regular session, which has to end by 6 p.m. Thursday, June 6, many good bills died or were not seriously considered.
When President Trump’s motorcade drove over the I-10 bridge in Lake Charles last week, a major breakthrough occurred in advocating for a new bridge. For many years, the Chamber SWLA has been communicating with our federal delegation about the need for a new bridge. With the establishment of the I-10 Task Force, serious investigations into all aspects of this project were undertaken on the local level.
Southwest Louisiana is on the map in the global economy. We have major companies based in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and soon Australia with manufacturing facilities located in our region employing thousands of high-skill, high-wage workers from local communities. The second wave of industrial expansion will soon begin and construction of more new petrochemical and liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities is on the way.
At a recent economic development conference, attendees heard from Technology Futurist Jack Shaw, who provided a glimpse into the rapidly changing technology world. Technology has advanced so fast that many of us cannot fathom what will happen in the next few years. Not in 20 or 30 years but in three, five, and 10 years. Many of us have heard of the coming changes but brushed those ideas aside because we thought it would only affect future generations. Wrong. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will transform most aspects of our life. Autonomous vehicles, replacement of routine tasks and jobs with automation and robotics are here and moving rapidly into the workplace. Shaw said two of the major impacts would come about as a result of 3D Printing Technology and Blockchain.
Infrastructure is a word tossed around a lot these days, but nowhere is it more important than here in Southwest Louisiana. With our area leading the nation in industrial growth and job creation, the pressure on our infrastructure is growing daily. It’s becoming a crisis situation and our region deserves priority from the state and federal government to help us solve these issues. We have been overlooked for too long.
As we begin 2019, construction of several large industries is nearing completion and they are beginning operation. This is the goal for long-term and sustainable growth for our region. The permanent jobs created after construction is when our region gets tremendous benefits, not only in taxes to our local governments, but in high-paying jobs for our residents.
There are no certainties in the field of economic development.
• Are you a small business owner who needs funding to grow your business?
• Do you have what you believe is a good business concept?
• Do you want an opportunity to promote your business?
Interstate 210 Bridge Construction Work in Lake Charles, Louisiana Will Impact the Community and Business Sector...the question is 'How Much?'
It has begun.
On January 7, 2019, private contractors started the highly anticipated Interstate 210 construction project that is desperately needed in order to make sure the structure is safe for motorist.
Our region needs more S.T.E.A.M. in the New Year. That is, we need more emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. And the “A” stands for arts. Future jobs and the future of our region depend on education and training in these categories.
Business is good in Southwest Louisiana. People who do not believe the latter need look no further than the daily growing list of businesses that are opening because owners want to make money in an area that possesses one of America’s fastest and consistently growing gross domestic products.
At this time of the year, we reflect on 2018 and plan for 2019.
Southwest Louisiana had another successful year with a growing economy and record employment.
Thank you to our Chamber Southwest Louisiana members. We wouldn’t be the organization we are today without each and every one of you!
Since 1903, the Chamber has been a long-standing institution in Southwest Louisiana.
As 2019 approaches, the SEED Incubator Center management team wants the public to know about the opportunities that will be available. We encourage start up business owners and longtime entrepreneurs to consider our services.
The mission of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance is to improve the economy in our five-parish region and increase the quality of life for all residents.
If you have not heard, the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in the business space is about to get into full gear in 2019.
Our five-parish region continues to lead the state in job growth. In fact, The Lake Charles MSA has the fastest job growth for medium size markets in the United States, according to Business Facilities Magazine. Our region was named the Small Market of the Year for the eighth year in a row by Southern Business Development Magazine.
According to a study compiled by analysts with www.howmuch.com, the Lake Charles area is the number one market for job seekers in America.
Our region is in the midst of unprecedented growth and job creation. These jobs will provide the foundation for keeping our young people here and in attracting new residents for generations to come.
Diversity in the workplace can be an uncomfortable discussion. It is a complicated topic because the word ‘diversity’ is defined by an individual’s cultural standards, values and perceptions.
Lake Charles Regional Airport landed Southwest Louisiana’s most recent Certified Site from Louisiana Economic Development (LED) in September. This new Certified Site is the 156-acre tract of property located north of Airport Boulevard and west of the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office location on Gulf Highway (La. Hwy. 385). A Certified Site designation indicates that the airport property for lease is primed and ready for development.
Scott said in 40 years of monitoring the Louisiana economy, he has never seen back-to-back job performances like that in any MSA in the state. In fact, he says, few if any other MSAs in the country matched this record.
Fall is here and that means it is time to make final preparations for the fourth business quarter during 2018.
No matter what your enterprise, thought needs to be given towards your overall business strategy.
The sports world provides some of the best examples of late game strategy because finishing strong is a key to overall success.
Here are some tips to consider from a 2017 article in Forbes magazine entitled “Five Tips To Win Your Fourth Quarter: Business Strategies From The Best In Sports.”
The 13th annual LegisGator Luncheon Aug. 24 at L’Auberge Casino Resort was a tremendous success. In addition to a packed house, there was a full complement of federal and state elected officials. Governor John Bel Edwards kicked off the program with optimism that the state’s financial condition has stabilized. As did most of the speakers, the Governor heaped praise on area businesses and elected leaders for the outstanding amount of industrial growth that is leading the state.
Built in 1952, The I-10 Bridge has outlived its structural capacity and usefulness in today’s fast paced national and international business climate. Studies by the National Bridge Inventory and Louisiana officials have established that the bridge does not meet traffic capacity standards which can impede commerce and create safety concerns.
Several years ago when The Alliance was planning for the coming year, the incoming board chair, Ken Broussard, suggested a need to work on the quality of life in our area.
Recent comments from visitors and economic development consultants are very encouraging about the current and future economy of our region.
We’ve heard repeatedly from sources outside our area that the dollar amount of current and future industrial projects is unprecedented and not something to take for granted, compared to other areas of our state and nation.