Sunday, January 16, 2011

Groups work together to bring more jobs to Shreveport area

By Bobbie J. Clark • • January 16, 2011

Six years ago, local economic development groups were working on about 16 projects in Caddo and Bossier parishes.

Today, there are 44, according to the North Louisiana Economic Partnership.

The boom has been fueled in part by the discovery of the Haynesville Shale natural gas deposit, but also a concerted effort by the NLEP and the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation, or GBEDF, as well as local governments and chambers of commerce, to market Northwest Louisiana to companies all over the country.

"We've gotten a lot more aggressive at promoting the area, and we've been pretty successful over the last five or six years," said Kurt Foreman, NLEP president.
In 2010 alone, the NLEP was instrumental in completing 10 projects, resulting in about 1,000 new jobs and $150 million in capital investment.

Foreman said most of the projects were expansions of existing operations in the oil and gas industry, but not all.

For example, the NLEP helped bring Millen Air, a fixed-base operator, to the Shreveport Downtown Airport. The group also helped with the expansion of Red River Pharma at the InterTech Science Park.

In both those projects, the NLEP worked closely with area partners, such as the Shreveport Airport Authority and Biomedical Research Foundation.

Foreman said the key to securing these projects has been the partnerships they have with local governments and business groups across north Louisiana.

The NLEP's ability to connect companies with those partners has become a primary function of the group.

For example, when a proposal to build a hub for trucking company Quality Transport fell through in Caddo Parish, the GBEDF was able to find a place for the company at its Commerce Industrial Park.

Construction already has started on the facility, and the company's ownership estimates they will have 110 new jobs at an annual salary of $55,000 each.

David "Rocky" Rockett, GBEDF's executive director, said it communicates regularly with the NLEP.

"When the opportunity arises to work together, we do," he said. "My area is Bossier, but at the end of the day, we are all trying to accomplish the same goal — to increase jobs."

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