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Business and industry thought leaders George Swift and Daniel Groft are optimistic about the future of SW LA.

Business and industry thought leaders George Swift and Daniel Groft are optimistic about SW La’s future.

Released at 8:49 am on Sunday, August 14, 2022

Southwest Louisiana is embarking on a new chapter as it continues to recover from the business disruptions caused by the pandemic and subsequent weather catastrophe.

George Swift, president and CEO of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, said: “We must not forget that the project has generated about $45 billion and created more than 15,000 permanent jobs.

Southwestern Louisiana has about twice as many pipelines slated for completion in the next two to three years, Swift said.

“Industrial expansion has increased significantly, the economy has picked up, and people are still buying a lot of building supplies, furniture, appliances, etc. Sales taxes are pretty good,” Swift said. “Business is generally good in this area.”

While some small businesses in the area haven’t returned, Swift said others are coming back stronger, including the announcement that repair work has begun on Henderson’s newly opened Patz and Capitol One towers. said.

He also noted the economic benefits the region will receive once hurricane mediation begins between policyholders and their insurers.

“We are poised for a good future,” Swift said.

Daniel Groft, director of the HC Drew Center for Business and Economic Analysis at McNeath State University, said Southwest Louisiana continues to be a “key international center.”

“If you look at LNG exports, Cameron is down more than 15%,” says Groft. “It has really helped restore ports and shipping lanes.

“There are areas across the country that could do anything to have this industrial base, and we grew up with it and have been there for generations, so I think we take it for granted.” Swift said, “If we didn’t have an industrial base, industrial jobs could easily create five or six jobs in a community, so there would be a lot less of everything: medical services, restaurants, gasoline.” Stands, insurance companies, car dealerships, etc., all of which feed the jobs of the industry.”

Groft said the region is gaining jobs slowly and steadily, and employment growth will increase once the announced industrial projects complete their financing and construction plans.

“In terms of jobs, we’re better than we were before the storm. We’ve added about 6,400 jobs,” Groft said. “We are not yet at pre-pandemic levels because we have been hit very hard by the pandemic and the storm.”

Construction jobs have increased since the storm, but the hospitality sector is still down by about 1,600 jobs. Groft said the region should surpass pre-pandemic levels in the next two years.

Despite Capri’s closure, gaming revenue is close to pre-pandemic levels, with revenue per entry surging and continuing to remain high.

“The game is a huge success because it had zero revenue during the pandemic and was closed again during a storm, making it a crater again,” says Groft. “Despite the closure of Capri and the loss of one gaming facility, it is currently at its previous level. will grow and will no longer compete.”

According to Groft, when the census was released, the metropolitan statistical area of ​​southwestern Louisiana lost more percentage points to migration than any other MSA in the country.

“We need to get people back, put them to work, put them in places to live, get the workforce back because in Calcasieu there is generally about 3% less workforce than before the pandemic,” said Groft. say. “We have a lot of vacancies. Calcasieu has a lot more vacancies than the unemployed.”

Swift said all the companies he knows are looking for workers, and some are cutting hours until their staffing needs are met.

McNeath State University and Sowera Technical Community College have the courses they need to train their workforces, and grants are available to help adults return to school, Swift said.

Upcoming projects

Swift said the field will need “vision, focus and commitment” to handle some of the upcoming projects.

“Chenneau International Airport has new acreage off the golf course for development but needs more water and sewage capacity. So does Lakacin Industrial Estate and Beauregard Airport,” Swift said. “It’s not the most glamorous thing to do, but making these investments now will pay off for years to come.”

Swift said the region’s predecessors had a vision to create the shipping channels that have given the region its industrial base.

“They had a vision and they made it happen,” Swift said. “The Chamber of Commerce pushed for a junior college here many years ago, which became McNeice State University. Our Chamber Bridge Task Force has been active for five years, Currently, the Interstate 10 Calcasieu River Bridge project is underway.”

In the long run, Swift said the region needs to continue to focus on quality of life to keep people here and attract new ones.

“We need to keep the locals here,” Swift said. “It’s a big deal. We need to have amenities that they like in the community, such as parks, activities, bike lanes. We need to grow and attract new talent, and we need to make ourselves the region of choice.”

Swift said the region’s economy is doing well.

“Southwestern Louisiana is good,” he said. “Given what we’ve been through, we’re on track and have strong projections.”

Swift said an indicator of the region’s strong economy is the volume of inquiries from businesses looking to relocate to the area.

“Several fast food outlets want to come here and we have about 32 industrial projects currently underway,” he said. Additionally, a national evaluation by Site Selection magazine ranked Nashville, Austin and Button among the nation’s top 20 economic development groups, alongside Rouge. That’s all a good indicator that we’re back. ”


Editor’s Note: George Swift and Daniel Groft share more insights and analysis on the future of the region’s infrastructure and economic health on Tuesday american press business cover.