By George Swift, President/CEO, Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance
This year, our region has benefited from unprecedented industrial announcements for future developments that will total more than $58 billion. This amount makes Southwest Louisiana the leader in development in Louisiana and the nation in job creation and capital investment.
We have many economic opportunities before us. How we respond will determine the future of our region for several generations. Only since the ship channel was dug or the first industries located here in World War II has this area been on the verge of such massive growth.
We are very fortunate to have many development projects announced or taking place. This list breaks down the projects according to parishes where they’re taking place:
• Allen Parish: In Kinder, the Coushatta Casino Resort completed a $60 million hotel expansion.
• Beauregard Parish: Great things will take place at the Beauregard Airpark once its state site certification is complete. Boise has two expansions, estimated at $111 million, which will create 54 new direct jobs and 222 indirect jobs.
• Calcasieu Parish:
— AAR at Chennault: 250 jobs, with an additional 500 by 2017
— Belle Savanne in Carlyss: $210 million
— Carboline’s new warehouse: $5.5 million
— Chennault’s new hangar: $21 million
— Energy Transfer Equity, formerly Trunkline LNG: $9 billion, 100 new jobs.
— G2X Energy: $1.3 Billion, 243 new jobs
— Greenfield Logistical Solutions Pelican Lodge Industrial Employee Housing: $70 million
— The Grove at Heritage Square: $1.5 million
— The Golden Nugget: $580 million, 1,500 new jobs
— IFG Port Holdings: $59.5 million, 36 new jobs
— Juniper Natural Gas-to-Liquids Facility: $100 million, 29 new direct jobs
— Lake Charles Clean Energy, Leucadia: $2.6 billion, 200 new jobs
— Magnolia LNG: $2.2 Billion, 45 new jobs
— Mardi Gras Boardwalk: $45 million, 1,300 new jobs
— Northrop Grumman Expansion: $3.6 million
— Port of Lake Charles Improvements: $22 million
— Sasol, LTG: GTL Complex and Ethylene Cracker and Derivatives Facility: $16-21 billion, 1,100 new jobs
— Sowela Training Facility: $20 million
— SWLA Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center: $12.9 million
— Union Pacific Rail Improvements: $22 Million
— West Calcasieu Event Center: $10 million
• Cameron Parish: Liquified natural gas producers are making huge investments in Cameron Parish. Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass Terminal is one of the largest capital investments in Louisiana History. The $18 billion dollar project will create 150 new jobs.
Sempra’s Cameron LNG facility will bring in 130 new jobs and a direct capital investment of $6 billion.
• Jefferson Davis Parish: Louisiana Spirits Rum Distillery opened this year. The $5.3 million project uses Louisiana cane sugar and molasses to make a true Louisiana-made rum.
Speeding up the process of moving grain, the South Louisiana Rail Unloading facility ($4 million) will move 25,000 bushels of grain per hour.
Zagis is expanding its operations.
Downtown Lake Arthur is home to a new $500,000 boutique hotel.
To take advantage of the major industrial projects, we will have to invest in the basics, such as new roads, bridges and schools. Here’s a list of changes that will be needed in specific areas:
Housing. We will need apartments and single family homes.
Water and sewerage. A 1992 study stated that before our region could grow, there would need to be water and sewerage in the unincorporated areas. Calcasieu Parish is tackling the problem, but it is costly, and takes a long time.
Trained workers. We will need to train and equip workers for the thousands of jobs to be filled. We must find a way to increase the capacity at Sowela Technical
Community College and McNeese State University. The announcement by Gov. Jindal of a $20 million dollar Worker Training Center at Sowela is a huge step in getting this training underway. Just as the petrochemical plants have done for this area for several generations, we will be able to provide careers and good incomes for families. To fill these jobs, we will need to train the unemployed and the under-employed, and attract new workers to our area.
The next generation of informed and involved leaders and originators. We need to keep the next generation of workers here and invested in the future of our communities. That’s why the Alliance has a number of efforts to make our region more attractive to our young people. Using our Next Generation Initiative, our Leadership Southwest Program and Fusion Five, Southwest Louisiana’s premiere young professionals’ group, we are working to keep graduates here or get them back and attract new residents.
The motivator to keep young professionals in the region is to have rewarding careers, amenities, entertainment and a great quality of life.
The pipeline of future workers and leaders. We are working to place The Leader In Me process into each of our area’s elementary schools. This effort will bring out the best in each of our young people and give them the confidence to be the best they can be.
This is just a highlight reel of the projects coming to the area and what we need to address the needs that will arise during this time of growth and development. What will take place over the next 5 to 10 years depends on our community leaders, elected officials and the business community. We need to work together to make a true and lasting change for our region.
It is imperative that we fully grasp the scope and potential of the opportunities before us and make great decisions that we — and future generations — won’t regret.