SWLA Economic Scorecard
3/5/2018 1:32:49 PM
Economic Scorecard

Here in Southwest Louisiana, we often hear about the significant number of new projects in the region. Indeed, the numbers are impressive! A 2016 figure from the national Bureau of Economic Analysis indicates the local Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 8.1 percent, one of the fastest growing in the nation for metropolitan areas with populations less than two million. Manufacturing of non-durable goods was cited as the primary reason for this growth. Our current unemployment rate, another strong indicator of our economy, is 3.2 %, as of December 2017. This is one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, and lower than the national average of 4.1%. The dollar value of the area’s current and pending projects equals an incredible $108,671,644,326. That’s trillions, folks!

In Loren Scott’s 2017-2018 predictions for the state, he says of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, "the whole country envies this expansion.” He adds that we have three primary industries going for us. First, the petrochemical industries – SWLA is currently home to 16 different chemical plants, two refineries, three LNG export facilities, and two industrial gas processing plants. Total current employment in these facilities is 6,995 direct employees and 12,500 contractors, according to Larry DeRoussel with Lake Area Industry Alliance. Second, the gaming industry. SWLA currently has five major casinos resorts, employing a total of 6199 (a 2017 statistic.) The third major sector is aircraft repair at the two local airports. Chennault has Northrup-Grumman, employing 721. Lake Charles Regional is home to ERA Helicopters and PHI, another helicopter service company. Healthcare and education are also major employers in our area.

We hear these impressive numbers bantered about, but they make a bigger impact when we see them with our own eyes. Take a look at these lists of projects, all taking place here in Southwest Louisiana. Information was provided by the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, and they said the lists are not exhaustive.

Projects under Construction

  • Lotte Westlake Chemical Complex
  • Belle Savanne
  • Big Lake Fuels (G2X)
  • Dongsung
  • Entergy Louisiana
  • Indorama Ventures
  • Juniper Specialty Products, LLC
  • Lake Charles Memorial Health System
  • Lake Charles Regional Airport
  • Lakes at Morganfield
  • McNeese State University
  • Port of Lake Charles – Calcasieu Ship Channel
  • Sasol – Ethane Cracker
  • West Calcasieu Port
  • Cameron
  • Cheniere LNG Phase 1 & 2
  • Cameron Access
  • Cameron Courthouse
  • Cameron LNG
  • Jeff Davis
  • Jeff Davis Jail
Subtotal: $43,280,179,326

Announced Projects Pending Final Approval

  • ART
  • Driftwood LNG
  • Gulf South Pipeline Company
  • Lake Charles LNG/Shell
  • Lake Charles Methanol LLC
  • Lake Charles Memorial Health
  • Lake Charles Regional Airport
  • Magnolia LNG
  • McNeese State University
  • Erdace (Sears Residential Housing)
  • Cameron
  • Cheniere LNG Phase 3
  • Commonwealth LNG (formerly Waller Point)
  • Port Cameron, LLC
  • G2 LNG
  • Monkey Island LNG (formerly SCT&E LNG)
  • Venture Global LNG – Calcasieu Pass
Subtotal: $65,391,465,000

Total: $108,671,644,326

Completed Projects 2012-2017

  • Allen Parish Jail
  • Seven Clans Hotel at Coushatta

  • Beauregard Courthouse
  • Packaging Inc. of America (Boise)

  • Chennault Hanger
  • Crying Eagle Brewery
  • Delta Downs Casino
  • Farmers Rice Milling
  • Golden Nugget
  • Golden Nugget Rush Tower
  • Heritage Square
  • IFG Port Holdings
  • Lake Charles City Court
  • Lake Charles Regional Airport
  • L’Auberge
  • Matheson TriGas
  • McNeese State University
  • Northrup Grumman
  • PLC – Rail Improvements
  • SW Beverage
  • SEED Center
  • Sowela Aviation Training Facility
  • Sowela Industrial Training Facility
  • Sowela Nursing/Health Facility
  • Sycamore Student Center at Sowela
  • VA Hospital
  • West Calcasieu Event Center
  • Westlake Chemical

  • Cameron Fisheries Facility

Jeff Davis
  • LA Spirits
  • Metalplate Galvanizing
  • Porocel
  • Sowela Jennings Campus Facility
  • Zagis Expansion

Total: $1,863,118,364

At Home in SWLA
by Andrea Mongler

Across the Lake Charles metro area, a variety of housing developments are taking shape, expanding, or evolving. Some are brand-new, some have unique and cutting-edge features, and some are practically small towns of their own. According to the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance 2017 Projects Report, close to 50 new or existing housing developments are being built or expanded in the region.

Here are a few of the latest housing highlights.


Located off E. McNeese Street, MorganField is more than just a neighborhood. In fact, it is five neighborhoods — the Village at MorganField, the Lakes at MorganField, the Crest, Waterside, and Wildflower — that will be connected not only by roads but by walking trails, too.

As its website says, "MorganField was inspired by the best small towns of the past.”

That small-town feel extends beyond the homes in the development to businesses, including JD Bank, which was the first business to open in MorganField; a credit union that is under construction; the Lighthouse, which is a soon-to-open convenience store; and Romancelli Italian restaurant, also under construction. A public golf course is planned for the development, and Harvest Community Center will be home to two local churches. 
Eventually, Morganfield is slated to contain several hundred homes, as well as lakes, parks, and swimming pools.

Nikki Woodcock, a broker with Woodcock Realty who sells homes at MorganField, says houses in the Village and the Lakes are being built by local or Lafayette-based independent builders. More than 50 homes have been sold between the two neighborhoods, and about a dozen are currently available. They range in price from the mid-$200,000s to the mid-$300,000s.

Waterside — the first phase of which has sold out — and Wildflower will contain custom-built homes with larger lots — at least five acres each at Wildflower.

Walnut Grove

Known as a traditional neighborhood development, Walnut Grove contains homes that are within easy walking distance of a variety of businesses. Among these are the upscale Restaurant Calla, bank branches, a post office, and medical clinics.

But the feeling of community doesn’t end there. Walnut Grove also hosts community events, like the popular Groovin’ at the Grove concert series and the Walnut Grove 5K and Nutty Fun Bubble Run. Its Majestic Hall can be booked for weddings, meetings, parties and other events, and cooking classes are also among the activities that take place there.

"The events and the community involvement we have along with the commercial businesses in the neighborhood really form a tight-knit community,” says Marilyn Zimmermann, design coordinator assistant at Walnut Grove.

The first home in the neighborhood broke ground in 2012. Today, 17 houses and five townhomes are complete, with four homes under construction. Homes range in price from $290,000 to $799,000, and Walnut Grove is also beginning to sell not only homes but also lots to future residents looking to build there.


Though Graywood isn’t new, homes are still being built and sold in some of its 18 neighborhoods. Currently, 36 homes and 103 lots are for sale, with 33 custom and spec homes under construction. One planned neighborhood remains undeveloped.

Homes in the master-planned community off Big Lake Road in South Lake Charles range in price from $300,000 to $5 million, with prices and sizes varying by neighborhood. Graywood also features the Gray Plantation Golf Course; a private sports club with swimming, tennis, and a fitness center; and the Gray Plantation Cypress Grille, which is open to the public. In addition, Graywood Parkway, the main entrance to the community, is being upgraded and is slated to be finished by late March.

Community manager Carolyn Marcantel says Graywood’s plentiful green space, filled with trees and water features, sets it apart from other developments. "We are in the city limits, but we have that rural feeling,” she says. "It’s like living in the country even though you’re actually living in the city.”

Terre Sainte

Adjacent to Walnut Grove is a new development called Terre Sainte, which can be translated as "holy land” or "holy ground.”

Lead developer Troy Stine says his vision was to create a community-oriented, kid-friendly neighborhood with an "old” ambience, including a front porch on every house and an oak tree in every yard.

Construction of homes is ongoing with plans calling for about 90 in total. Many have been sold, but some are currently up for sale. The development consists of three different areas, with homes in all of them: the front of the neighborhood, closest to Sallier Street; the centrally located park, considered the "hub” of the neighborhood; and the back of the development, including five waterfront homes on Contraband Bayou.

Audubon Trace

In Moss Bluff, development is under way on Audubon Trace, a new subdivision with a unique design approach that aims to be more eco-friendly than the traditional grid design. Rather than building streets and lots along straight lines, "coving” employs a curved design. This results in reduced infrastructure, including roads, which should ultimately lead to less environmentally harmful stormwater runoff.

The neighborhood was designed by Minnesota firm Rick Harrison Site Design.

"The design is really neat,” says Audubon Trace developer Mo Hannie, owner of Hannie Consulting. "There is nothing else like this here.”

Hannie says his company will start selling lots to builders within about a month, with construction of homes planned to start shortly thereafter. More than 600 homes are slated to be built, along with walking paths and playground areas.

Sugarcane Townes

In Iowa, ground was broken in August for a large development with plans for 517 single-family houses and 144 townhomes. Communications coordinator Diana Barrios says the inspiration for Sugarcane Townes came in part from the New Urbanism movement and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, resulting in an emphasis on "recreation and entertainment, sentiment, and health.”

"This is what we call ‘ the sweet life,’ and it’s what definitely sets us apart from other projects in the area,” Barrios says.

Plans for the development’s neighborhoods include five miles of walking paths and sidewalks, 19 ponds and fountains, parks for children and pets, an orchard, an outdoor theater, and a sports club that will be free to residents as part of their homeowners’ association fees and open to members of the surrounding community for a membership fee.

In addition, plans call for a commercial area within walking distance of homes. It is slated to have several businesses, including a daycare, a grocery store, a restaurant and bar, and an urgent care.

Infrastructure construction is under way for the first phase of Sugarcane Townes, and Barrios says construction on the first homes might begin this summer.

Highland Hills and Oak Grove

Also under construction in Iowa are two adjoining master-planned neighborhoods developed by Lafayette-based Southern Lifestyle Development: Oak Grove and Highland Hills. The two neighborhoods will share communal green space, a pond, and a children’s playground.

Plans call for a total of 254 houses built by DSLD Homes in Oak Grove, and 188 built by multiple builders in Highland Hills. So far, 49 have been completed in Oak Grove, with 39 sold, and 21 have been completed in Highland Hills, with 16 sold.


Rather than single-family homes, Erdace will feature 270 luxury apartments in a four-story building. Groundbreaking at the downtown site of the former Sears building on Ryan Street took place in early January, and construction is projected to be finished in March 2019.

Studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom options will be available, with features including balconies, granite countertops, garden tubs, walk-in closets, and stainless-steel appliances.

According to Erdace’s website, it is "a $43 million project that will create over 1,000 construction jobs at the height of construction.”

Parish by Parish - Southwest Louisiana is Growing Economically
by Angie Kay Dilmore

Southwest Louisiana is blessed to have five different parishes in the region. Each one adds its own unique threads to the fabric of our local culture . . . coastal Cameron and the crawfish ponds of Jeff Davis, the rural farms and fields of Allen and Beauregard, and the bustle of Calcasieu sandwiched in between. They differ economically, as well, and each contributes in their own progressive way.

Calcasieu Parish 

continues to expand in several economic sectors. Industries are building, growing, producing... providing the foundation for the Lake Area to thrive. Sasol thrums with their ethane cracker expansion in Westlake. Indorama Ventures nears the completion of their construction and should start producing the second quarter of 2018. Lotte Chemical has made Southwest Louisiana their headquarters (see full story on page 42.) And these updates are but a fraction of the work being done in the region.

Healthcare institutions have expanded and updated to better meet the needs of the community. Memorial Hospital has a new 40-bed Emergency Department and a new Medical Intensive Care Unit. CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital updated and improved their cardiology services department. They formed a partnership with Ochsner Health System who now operates CHRISTUS Lake Area Hospital. Avail Health Lake Charles Hospital opened on Nelson Road, and the VA built a new clinic.

Housing development is still booming (see article on page 38.) New restaurants and retail businesses dot our busy corridors. Successful development in one industry sector naturally radiates outward to business growth in other sectors.

Cameron Parish 

continues to grow at an astounding pace. Clair Hebert Marceaux, PCED, Port Director, Cameron Parish Port, Harbor & Terminal District, says that, based on information coming from Louisiana Economic Development, Cameron Parish currently represents 47 percent of all capital expenditures in the state of Louisiana. The Parish also provided 84 percent of the total construction jobs in the state. "Those are staggering numbers,” says Marceaux. "We only have 6,800 permanent residents. We have three times as many construction workers each day in the parish as we do permanent residents.”

Two projects are currently under construction. Cameron LNG in Hackberry and Cheniere Energy-Sabine Pass Project in Johnson Bayou. The following projects are announced and pending. Venture Global LNG-Calcasieu Pass Project; G2 LNG; Monkey Island LNG; Delfin LNG; Commonwealth LNG; and Port Cameron, LLC. 

In addition to industry, there are other economic developments in Cameron. The parish’s first new hotel (not a motel) in five decades was built late last year in Hackberry, called The Hackberry Sportsman’s Lodge by Mainstay. A new 69-lot residential development called Oak Ridge in Hackberry is underway, with the first two homes under construction. Tourism is also an active industry in Cameron Parish. Marceaux says nearly 300,000 visitors experience the Creole Nature Trail and the parish’s four wildlife refuges each year. The fishing industry is thriving. "Our parish revolves around more than liquefied natural gas,” Marceaux says. "But we are certainly proud of the present global spotlight that is shining on us.”

Beauregard Parish

The hidden jewel of the state, according to Lisa Adams, Executive Director Greater Beauregard Parish Chamber of Commerce. They are centrally located and only a short car ride to big city amenities. Adams believes Beauregard is on the verge of both population and economic growth within the next 10 years. "As our sister parish to the south booms from the oil and gas industry, we hope either longtime residents or those relocating to fill these jobs will make Beauregard Parish their new home by regaining that ‘small town’ feeling. As our population grows, these numbers help us attract new businesses and industry.”

The Greater Beauregard Chamber of Commerce recently received a $50,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority to aid in certifying the parish as a "Work Ready” community. Currently they are at 90% complete and with the grant, their goal is to be 100% completed by August 2018. "In doing so, this will give Beauregard Parish a competitive edge when vying to attract new business and industry because we will have the data to support that our workforce is indeed ready,” says Adams.” We are a community of hard working and very loyal individuals who not only enjoy living in our parish, but also love raising our families at home right here in Beauregard Parish.”

Adams says small businesses are key to her area. The community has recently welcomed several new small businesses: Transitions, a full hair salon and day spa; two boutiques -- Rustic Cottage & Kayce J’s, all located in Country Square, which is also home to Champion Jewelry, Curious Cargo, Merle Norman, and Nice Necessities. Downtown Grounds, in historic DeRidder, serves soups and sandwiches, inside dining, and Wi-Fi. 

Jeff Davis Parish

Construction has commenced on Entergy Louisiana’s $100 million upgrade to its electric power transmission grid. Once completed, this infrastructure upgrade will provide reliable, affordable electricity to their customers. Work will include construction of new transmission lines and the rebuilding of existing lines. These new lines will withstand winds up to 140 mph. 

Louisiana Spirits rum distillery in Lacassine has started a six-million-dollar expansion, which will add an event space and outdoor entertainment area to the distillery, along with a larger barrel library to hold more varieties of Bayou Rum. The facility has become a tourist destination, attracting 35,000 visitors in 2016. Work will be completed in a year.

Jeff Davis Parish also loves their small businesses. Ground has been broken for a Tractor Supply Company in Jennings.

Allen Parish 

Small and rural, but they, too, show economic development. Their primary economic generator continues to be Coushatta Casino Resort and tourism. The casino recently opened a new Tex-Mex restaurant named Jalapeño Rio. Their annual Coushatta Pow Wow takes place in June. Canal Coffee opened cafes in Kinder, Oberlin, and one coming soon in Oakdale. Main Street Diner 2 opened in Oberlin.

No matter where you are in Southwest Louisiana, look around. You’ll see the signs of healthy economic growth, which improves the quality of life for the region’s residents.
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