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Shreveport-Bossier's not so shrinking economy? - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Shreveport-Bossier's not so shrinking economy?

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Two weeks ago, a report came out saying that Shreveport Bossier had the fastest shrinking economy in the nation. Just a few years earlier, despite a nationwide recession, the Haynesville Shale was putting us at the top of economic performers.

"I question the veracity of that study. I don't feel like the study truly looked at all of the aspects of the economy." Rocky Rocket is Bossier's point person for economic development. He says we have plenty of new businesses in our area and businesses that are already here, are doing well. But even if the analysis was on target, Rocket says the report won't hurt industrial recruitment because job makers don't care about those kinds of things. "When most manufacturers come to our area, the first question out of their mouth is, 'What does your workforce look like? Can we get educated, qualified workers here?'"

To get that skilled workforce, Scott Martinez, the president of the Northwest Louisiana Economic Partnership, points to Bossier Parish Community College's new facility that will train workers for the Benteler steel plant that's being built. "What that does, from my perspective is provides a bridge for people in our community who may be underemployed to get a skill set so that they can go and better support themselves and their family."

The area does have educational challenges. Caddo Parish, for instance, has a number of academically failing elementary, middle and high schools. But Martinez says a great school system is essential to building that workforce of tomorrow. "Not just at the college level, but K-12."

Caddo Parish officials have focused largely on marketing the old General Motors plant.  The port has worked to expand its tenant list.  But at city hall, marketing falls to the mayor's office, since Glover has not appointed an economic development director.  There is one staffer, however, devoted to the film industry.  Mayor Glover acknowledges more needs to be done to sell the city.  One goal: Revive the concept of the Shreveport-Caddo Economic Development Association. It failed in part because Caddo Commissioners disagreed on who should sit on the board.  Glover wants to try again. "And it's our hope and expectation that we'll be able to stand it up in the early part of 2014."  Until SCEDA is up and running, Glover says they will lean on success stories from businesses in our area to entice other prospects. "You help them help you to share your story, your area story, your region story for why it is that those entities that are not yet here need to come and need to be relocated and be a part of what we're doing here in Shreveport and Northwest Louisiana."
Here's what officials say we need to be able to attract more businesses and manufacturers to our area.

The number one necessity is workforce.
That's followed by available land for prospective businesses to use.
Finally, but still equally important, is infrastructure to transport goods. 

 

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