NLEP announces positive economic outlook for area - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

NLEP announces positive economic outlook for area

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This year alone, the promise of more than 1100 new jobs have been announced throughout this area. We asked economic development officials what's been the selling point and what are challenges we continue to face to replace lost manufacturing jobs while transitioning to what are known as information-based industries. Scott Martinez works with the North Louisiana Economic Partnership. N.L.E.P. partners with local communities across a 14 parish region  -- from Shreveport to Monroe. "In the past three years we've had more economic development announcements related to capital investments in Louisiana than they've had in Texas. People outside of North Louisiana don't realize the assets that we have." Recently, one of north Louisiana's biggest job industries, manufacturing, got a boost of 75 jobs at Lube Tech in Shreveport and more than 200 in Minden with Fibrebond. But the budding technology sector got the biggest headlines.

Governor Bobby Jindal came to Bossier City for a business announcement earlier this year. Jindal said, "A global provider of next-generation IT solutions will be creating 800 new direct jobs right here in Bossier City." The Fortune 500 company will provide a hefty western anchor to the new high-tech corridor along I-20. 

Centurylink is adding another 800 jobs in the next two years. Martinez says the area is ripe for an economic boom on both fronts, leveraging assets such as higher education and our single largest employer -- health care. "We have a great amenity here in our medical school. I think we need to support it, leverage that opportunity and make sure it's all it can be." But Martinez acknowledges our challenges, "If there's a deficiency, a true deficiency. It's the linkage between K thru 12 and technical training." However, Martinez says it's a problem we aren't facing alone and he's hopeful we're overcoming it. "Nationwide everything's been geared to sending every kid to get a 4 year baccalaureate degree and that may not be the best thing to do with education."

Despite recent successes, improvements can be made in our marketing.  As mayor of the third largest city in the state, Cedric Glover has been advocating for a joint city parish economic development agency to seal the deal when prospects look our way. Mayor Glover said, "We aren't doing nearly enough when it comes to having a professional entity in place that helps to manage and lead the retention, expansion and attraction of business to the city of Shreveport and Caddo Parish."

Martinez adds, not only is this a great place to do business's, but a good place to live. "Having great outdoor amenities, whether it's a trail system, whether it's great music venues. I think all of those things combined make North Louisiana attractive to the creative class."


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