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Minden's economy, leaders want to industrialize but keep charm - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Minden's economy, leaders want to industrialize but keep charm

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTBS) -

 

The City of Minden is "embracing its past and focusing on the future." Recently, Louisiana Development Ready Communities performed a economic study of the town and came up with a strategic plan to help economic growth. Town leaders called for the plan about a year ago and are just delving into the plan. It moves Minden from being a bedroom community, to one of industry. 

Priority one of Minden's 2013-18 Strategic Plan is marketing. This year, the town hopes to use social media, national campaigns and more to let industry know they're ready and willing to do business. Officials want to industrialize the town but keep its classic and lovable charm.
The plan also found what the town has that encourages and discourages such economic development. For example, Minden's charm encourages growth. However, its lack of proper industrial space discourages growth.

"I don't think there is anything here that's of great harm," Tommy Davis, the town's mayor, said. "We just need to improve upon things. Some things we're doing well. Some things we could do better."

Davis agrees the town's lack of available industrial space does need attention. He says there's a solution to that problem. It's the South Webster Industrial District, which lies just south of the town. Davis says there's plenty of land to develop there. Only, right now, no one can easily access it.

The district's railroad tracks cut right through it, blocking the main road and more than 200 acres. Davis wants to construct a crossing to access the land. He says infrastructure like water and electric lines will need to built, as well.

"Businesses used to call wanting 10 to 15 acres to build on," Davis said. "Now, they want 30, 40 or 100 acres to build a production site on. That's what we want to make available to them."

Retention is also mentioned in the plan. City officials want to keep and grow industries that already exist in and around Minden. Davis, however, believes retention isn't an issue.

"I don't know that retention has been a big problem," he said. "We've had a couple of industries move out of town. I don't think it's because of a situation here in Minden. I think it's just about the overall economy." 

Davis says the North Webster Chamber of Commerce will take responsibility for industry retention. It will inform companies about state incentives and more that will help them stay and grow in Louisiana.

"We understand that most new jobs are created by existing businesses," Davis said. "So, we want to do everything that we can to help the industry that we already have here, too."

Another vital point the plan covers is housing. Davis says there are plenty of homes in the town. The problem is a lack of middle income or affordable homes and land on which to build them. Davis points out the city can't do much about residential development. He says if jobs come, so will more affordable homes.

"If our economy is good. If we get new businesses in here, and they bring in new people," Davis said. "The private investment would surely follow."

The plan hasn't been implemented yet, but Davis is sure Minden needs to invest in itself in order to reach any goal. 

 

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