Money & Career
Economic Update
3/1/2020 12:00:00 AM

Economic Update


If one could describe the current economic culture of Southwest Louisiana in one word, it would surely be GROWTH. Our small business community is thriving, our airports and ports are expanding, our schools of higher education are elevating their services, land is being developed and buildings constructed, and the industries are growing by the minute. Whew!


In 2019, Southern Business & Development magazine ranked Louisiana No. 2 for securing the best economic development performance in the South on a per capita basis. It was the 11th year in a row that Louisiana ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the highly competitive category within the magazine’s annual SB&D "100 Top Deals and Hot Markets" issue. Also last year, Lake Charles earned its ninth consecutive Small Market of the Year honor for best economic development performance in cities of 50,000 to 250,000 people.


In this annual economic issue, we celebrate these achievements with some of the latest updates on our business community.



West Calcasieu Port &  DeQuincy Industrial Park are New LED-Certified Sites


West Calcasieu Port Director Lynn Hohensee announced recently that the port is now home to a certified site under Louisiana Economic Development’s Site Certification Program. The director made the announcement at a special ceremony held at Intracoastal Park.

 

The 32-acre certified site is adjacent to existing tenants and other port property, which consists of 203 acres along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway off La. Hwy. 27, just west of the Ellender Bridge. Hohensee hopes the Certified Site will help attract new tenants to the port, which is zoned Heavy Industrial.


"Like our fellow 30-plus public maritime ports in Louisiana, the West Cal Port is a regional economic development engine designed to attract private business that, in turn, will facilitate the growth of private investment, job growth and tax base expansion,” Hohensee explained. "Our port commissioners are confident that the newly certified acreage will be an incentive that will attract new tenants and their workforce.”


"West Cal Port is located in an area that could potentially be useful to major construction projects as they develop up and down the Calcasieu Ship Channel,” said Gus Fontenot, Project Coordinator for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. "The port having a certified site lets them offer an advantage to companies that want to locate and start their operations quickly. Hopefully this results in new jobs for the community and more revenue for the port,” added Fontenot.


DeQuincy Mayor Riley Smith announced that DeQuincy Industrial Park is also now officially a certified site. The mayor made the announcement at a ceremony at City Hall earlier this year.


The city-owned 50-acre Industrial Park, located next to the airport, earned designation as an official Certified Site under LED’s Site Certification Program. The City hopes this designation will help attract new tenants to the Industrial Park, which is zoned for light industrial or commercial use.


"Our goal is to entice new tenants to this site which will spur economic growth and more local jobs,” said Mayor Smith. "We want to kickstart more activity in that area which should, in turn, serve our community well into the future.”

The Industrial Park in DeQuincy is the 12th certified site in Southwest Louisiana and the ninth in Calcasieu Parish.


"The DeQuincy area is ripe for this type of site development,” said Gus Fontenot, Project Coordinator for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. "A ‘shovel-ready’ certified site is an asset that can hopefully lure the kind of activity that will bring new jobs and opportunities to the DeQuincy area,” added Fontenot


LED administers the Site Certification Program that promotes "shovel ready” sites for businesses to build or locate on. Since 2012, the state’s Site Certification Program has incentivized landowners to get property certified by offering to pay up to 75 percent of the costs associated with the due diligence process. That process includes environmental inspection, elevation surveys, archaeological investigations, a wetlands delineation, and much more in-depth documentation, analysis, and background work. The remaining 25 percent of the costs are covered by the landowner or others.

 

For more information about Southwest Louisiana’s Site Certification Program, contact Gus Fontenot at The Alliance (337) 433-3632 or email gfontenot@allianceswla.org. 




SOWEL& McNeeseSign Business Administration Transfer Agreement:

SOWELA Business Students Can Seamlessly Enter McNeese’s Bachelor’s Degree Program in Business Administration as a Junior


McNeese State University and SOWELA Technical Community College have made the transition easier for SOWELA students completing two-year associate degrees in business administration to pursue four-year bachelor’s degrees in business at McNeese. 


Through a memorandum of understanding (MoU), SOWELA transfer students who meet the minimum admission requirements to enter McNeese and who have completed the Associate of Applied Science degree in business administration may be awarded up to 57 credit hours at McNeese to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, finance, general business administration, management or marketing, all housed under the College of Business. 

McNeese’s College of Business is among just 5% of business schools in the world to be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. The College also features a dedicated internship director who assists employers and students with identifying opportunities for business majors and regularly hosts information and interview sessions to connect McNeese students with representatives from local, national and international business organizations.


"Creating a clear pathway for SOWELA students to earn a four-year degree at McNeese provides them with the opportunity to reach their goals and directly connects with our university mission of changing lives,” McNeese President Dr. Daryl V. Burckel said during the signing ceremony held on the SOWELA campus. 


"Our faculty and staff are invested in our students and we want them to achieve their dreams and aspirations,” Burckel said. "When students graduate from McNeese, we want them to make a life, make a living and make a difference in their communities.”


McNeese also offers SOWELA students who earn an associate degree in nursing a seamless process to transfer into the College of Nursing and Health Professions to complete their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. 

"Our vision for McNeese is to be the First Choice in every effort, every endeavor, every experience and First Choice for every SOWELA graduate who aspires to earn a four-year degree,” said Dr. Burckel. 


"McNeese and SOWELA have distinct missions, and it is imperative for us to collaborate and work together for the benefit of Southwest Louisiana. We plan to create as many of these transfer agreements as possible because it will benefit the students. Increasing the educational attainment rate will grow our economy and provide our graduates with unlimited opportunities.”


 "This MoU is another great example of how partnering with four-year institutions allows our students to seamlessly move from an associate degree to a bachelor’s degree without losing credit hours. We greatly appreciate McNeese’s willingness to further strengthen our partnership which will benefit our students and help grow the workforce and economy of Southwest Louisiana,” said SOWELA Chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall.






SOWELA Soars as an Educational Leader for Students, Local  Businesses, & Industry


SOWELA Technical Community College is expanding in numerous ways: student enrollment, building construction, and business collaboration, to name a few recent developments. 


Shattering Enrollment Records


SOWELA has experienced massive growth in the number of its registered students, bucking a national trend of decreasing college enrollment. In the current semester, enrollment has increased by 19% from the same time last year. Their current enrollment is 3,553 students.


"Many would think with the massive industrial growth in Southwest Louisiana that our enrollment would coincide with the workforce needs directly related to these industrial expansions.” said SOWELA Chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall. "However, the growth we are experiencing is not limited to our technical/industrial program areas; we are seeing growth in program areas such as Aviation, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Chemical Lab Technology, Graphic Art, and Nursing. I can directly attribute this growth to the great student focus we practice and the extraordinary dedication of our faculty and staff.”


Outdoor Training Pipeline


Last summer, SOWELA officials announced a $1 million donation from TC Energy that will be used to construct Louisiana’s first-ever training pipeline and only the third of its kind in the country. The donation will also be used to create the new state-of-the-art TC Energy Pipeline Academy on SOWELA’s Lake Charles Campus.


The TC Energy Pipeline Academy at SOWELA will serve as a regional learning center for students pursuing a career in the oil and gas field – one of Louisiana’s largest workforce industries. According to recent studies, the oil and gas industry employs nearly 45,000 Louisianans, primarily in South Louisiana. 


The new academy is being created to help fill a growing number of energy industry jobs and provide specific pipeline training in South Louisiana and surrounding areas. TC Energy also awarded $10,000 in scholarships to four SOWELA students.


"The creation of the TC Energy Pipeline Training Academy is a great and unique opportunity for SOWELA to partner with one of the world’s largest energy companies to provide training in a specific field that touches all aspects of the Louisiana economy,” said Aspinwall. "TC Energy’s investment is yet another example of how industry and education can partner to provide a trained and skilled workforce for Louisiana and the nation.” SOWELA also recently announced a $500,000 donation from Houston-based Cheniere Energy and the launch of a partnership in the form of an apprenticeship program.


SOWELA Breaks Ground on Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Building

Last fall, SOWELA broke ground on its new $10.2 million state-of-the-art Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Building at its Lake Charles Campus. The 28,000-square-feet building will provide education and training for students seeking jobs and careers in Louisiana’s booming hospitality industry. According to Louisiana Workforce Commission data, Louisiana is expected to see a 14.9% increase in hospitality employment opportunities by 2026. The goal of the new building on SOWELA’s campus is to help fill Louisiana Workforce Commission-rated four-star hospitality occupations in Louisiana’s economy. Currently, SOWELA has 80 students enrolled in culinary, gaming and hospitality programs.


Funding for the new building was approved by Governor John Bel Edwards in 2018 with the goal of educating and training students from across Louisiana. Construction of the building is scheduled to be completed in March 2021. "SOWELA’s new Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Building will help Louisiana take huge steps in filling much-needed tourism and hospitality jobs across the entire state,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. 


What’s next for SOWELA? 


The school has established a collaborative agreement with the SWLA Center for Health Services to expand student services at the College. A health clinic will be available at the Main Campus for students, faculty and staff beginning Fall 2020.


For more information, go to www.sowela.edu.




In SWLA’s Economic Boom: The Port of Lake Charles Does the heavy Lifting . . . & the Shipping & Handling


Think of the Port of Lake Charles as the master link of Southwest Louisiana’s economic growth—an essential component forging partnerships that serve land and sea.


"The Port works as part of a logistical chain in the global economy,” said Port Executive Director William J. "Bill” Rase. "We don’t make, create, or produce cargo—we work as a shipping service, moving it in and out efficiently.”

The Port of Lake Charles moves the world’s goods, facilitating the cargo’s journey from origin to destination—and because so much of the work has directly served local business and industry, the Port has been the anchor of Southwest Louisiana’s industrial and economic diversification for nearly a century. 


MOVE IT, MOVE IT, MOVE IT

Rase stressed that cargo offloaded at the Port gets moved along quickly—going out by ship, rail or truck, for example—even if it might have a short stop in storage first.


"We have some cargo in storage at any given time,” Rase said. "But it’s cargo that’s between destinations. We take it, handle it and move it. That’s why I call it being part of that ‘logistical chain’ in our economy.”


Indeed, cargo moves in and out on a global scale. At the same time, the Port’s various leased properties serve the needs of the area’s petrochemical complex and entertain the public with first-tier gaming and entertainment.

The "Port” is actually a component of the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District. While the District covers more than 200 square miles in Southwest Louisiana, the Port’s activities operate on some 5,400 acres.


The main lane for commerce is the carefully dredged Calcasieu Ship Channel. Together, the Port and Ship Channel form America’s Energy Corridor. It’s an "H2O highway” for cargo ranging from petrochemical products to liquefied natural gas, high-tech wind turbine blades, and rice.


A BUSY 2020 AHEAD


"We continue to work to provide the best services available to meet our industrial community’s—and the world’s—shipping needs,” Rase said. Those needs are expected to grow, and several factors suggest that the Port faces increased activity for a busy 2020 and beyond: 


The Port, Calcasieu Ship Channel and Gulf of Mexico have a global role in the transport of liquefied natural gas, and some of the area’s announced LNG projects could get the green light this year.


The Port of Lake Charles and its partners secured $136 million in federal funding for dredging and maintaining the Calcasieu Ship Channel, clearing the way for the increased commerce and growth expected in the coming years.

The Global Groundwork Index, compiled by the national consulting firm CG/LA Infrastructure, ranks several Port-related economic and transportation initiatives among the current Top 100 Strategic Projects in North America. They include the dredging of the Calcasieu Ship Channel (No. 15); the estimated $15.2 billion Driftwood LNG project planned by Tellurian Inc. (No. 17); Louisiana’s ongoing $50 billion Coastal Master Plan led by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (No. 19); and the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge project in Lake Charles (No. 94).


CONTINUITY OF LEADERSHIP


Rase, who has been with the Port since 2002 and its executive director since 2010, will retire May 31.

His No. 2 man, Deputy Executive Director Richert "Ricky” Self, who has served at the Port since 2003, will take over as Executive Director on June 1. 


Also, Jonathan "Jon” Ringo has been named the Port’s General Counsel. He succeeds longtime Port attorney Michael K. Dees.


Visit the Port’s reorganized and redesigned website, portlc.com, for quick access to a wealth of information related to the Port, the Calcasieu Ship Channel and other elements related to America’s Energy Corridor.


The Port, by the numbers:


  • Exports from Lake Charles jumped from $6.6 billion in 2017 to nearly $8.4 billion in 2018, a record. That’s a 27 % increase—the highest among Louisiana’s Gulf Coast ports—according to the U.S. Commerce Department statistics.
  • More than 15,000 jobs—nearly 15 % of all jobs in Lake Charles—rely on the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District. That impact on the local economy extends throughout the area, all the way to the Gulf.
  • Economic development expansion projects along the Calcasieu Ship Channel will, once completed by 2023, facilitate an estimated 10,729 new jobs.
  • America’s Energy Corridor will only get busier, analysts note. The Lake Charles metro area is projected to add 5,300 jobs this year, part of a two-year hiring cycle that represents the fastest growth rate in Louisiana—much of it driven by LNG projects.





SWLA Lake Charles Launch Promotes Area Small Businesses

by Kimberly Dellafosse


Countless articles have been written highlighting the benefits small businesses add to local economies. Entrepreneurs create jobs and in many cases, their ideas lead to the introduction of new products, services and innovations that fuel economic growth. Understanding the value entrepreneurs bring to a community, one can appreciate why local, state and federal efforts to support small businesses are necessary and constantly evolving.


The City of Lake Charles, under the leadership of Mayor Nicholas E. Hunter, recognizes the value of entrepreneurism. As a result, the City of Lake Charles is partnering with the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance during the month of March to embark upon a month-long celebration of entrepreneurship. The official name of the celebration is SWLA Lake Charles Launch.


The initiative has three objectives:


Encourage and promote the entrepreneurial spirit throughout the community

Provide educational resources to current and aspiring entrepreneurs that will enable them to strengthen the capacity of existing and future businesses

Strengthen the network between local businesses and the community


"The City of Lake Charles is the perfect place to start a business. We have assets in this City that other cities simply do not possess. Also, as a City, we have become more aggressive in our efforts to attract business development. The Lake Charles City Council’s approval of economic incentives and economic development districts are just two examples of the many ways we as a City are attempting to invest in entrepreneurship and growth” states Mayor Hunter.


The City of Lake Charles and the Alliance are not alone in this effort. In fact, several other local organizations have agreed to host events under the umbrella of the SWLA Lake Charles Launch initiative. To date, participating agencies include:

  • McNeese State University
  • Louisiana Small Business Development Center
  • SCORE
  • LaFleur Leadership Institute
  • What Works


Those interested in launching a new business or those desiring to learn business tips that can be applied to the management of an existing business are encouraged to take a look at the schedule of events. Most workshops offered as part of the SWLA Lake Charles Launch are free, but some will have a minimal cost.


Mayor Hunter added, "The idea is to get people in the community excited about business ownership, but we are also interested in ensuring that people are prepared and educated on how to increase their chances of being successful in business, and that’s why the SWLA Lake Charles Launch is important.”


Adrian Wallace, Executive Director of the SEED Center Business Incubator, states "I’m really elated to see how this initiative will impact the culture surrounding entrepreneurship within the community. I hope people will take advantage of the many opportunities available during the month and utilize the information to formulate business ideas that can be presented in the upcoming business incubator pitch competition.”


A wise man once said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it . . . ” Leaders from our local government and local business sector are attempting to create a future in Southwest Louisiana that is ripe for entrepreneurs and small business development, and the SWLA Lake Charles Launch is one of the initiatives they are employing to accomplish this goal.


For a schedule of events, go to cityoflc.us.




Chennault Executes Wave of New Leases


Whether it’s the low hum of a private plane, or the loud zip of a fighter jet practicing aerial maneuvers, the sounds of aircraft coming in and out of Chennault International Airport are familiar to many Southwest Louisiana residents.


Aircraft of all shapes and sizes fly into Chennault for rest, fuel, repairs and modifications. Originally constructed as a WWII-era air base, Chennault is now a multi-use facility where some 1,500 people go to work each day. 

It’s home to an active airfield—complete with a certified air traffic control tower and massive two-mile runway—as well as a private business community, known as Chennault Park, where companies like Northrop Grumman run their daily operations.


Chennault Park


Back in 2018, Chennault and the City of Lake Charles completed an agreement for the airport to acquire Mallard Cove Golf Course for new development, opening up exciting new possibilities for the airport. Also that year, Citadel Completions announced a $17.6 million capital investment into a new interior jet modifications center at the airport.


Armed with new land and a promising new tenant, Chennault started actively looking for ways to grow. The airport authority engaged consulting firm CSRS, along with commercial real estate companies NAI Latter & Blum and Cushman & Wakefield, to market the Chennault business community under the new name "Chennault Park” to prospective tenants worldwide. 


Since then, several sites have been successfully leased:

  • Site 1 Leased to National Guard: The US Army National Guard has leased 63 acres at Site 1.
  • Site 2 Leased to Wildlife & Fisheries: Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries is expected to break ground on a new administrative building in 2020 at Site 2.
  • New Air Cargo Facility: A ground-breaking is set for 2020 on a $4 million, 10,000 square feet air cargo facility. The demand for air cargo has dramatically increased as companies like Amazon drive business online. Chennault—with its two-mile runway, uncongested airspace and ample room for development—is uniquely equipped to handle air cargo. 
  • Citadel Executes Lease Agreement: Citadel Completions recently committed to a property lease for 35 acres to support their expanding operations. Conceptual renderings are currently in the works, with more details anticipated this spring. 


"The company is proud to continue its relationship with Chennault and contribute to the economic development of Lake Charles and the local community,” said Joe Bonita, managing director at Citadel. 


Citadel Completions provides interior refurbishment along with maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services for luxury-outfitted VIP/VVIP aircraft. The company’s current hangar space, more than 260,000 square feet, allows them to accommodate multiple projects simultaneously. To date, Citadel has re-delivered 10 aircraft including B737, B767, and B747 airframes.


Chennault is also actively looking for investors to build additional hangars for smaller general aviation airplanes, as well as grow retail and other services adjacent to the airport.


"These opportunities will fuel the fire for continued economic growth and intertwine with our efforts to invigorate this north Lake Charles community,” said Kevin Melton, the airport’s executive director.


With the continued support of the City, Parish and State, anticipated growth at Chennault is expected to generate up to $780 million in sales tax revenue for the parish and up to $1.1 billion in sales tax revenue for the state over the coming decades.


Chennault Park’s current tenants include Northrop Grumman, Million Air, Landlocked Aviation Services, Masonite/Louisiana Millwork, Habitat for Humanity, and Citadel Completions—with ample room for new development. 

Tenants benefit from nearby access to a deep-water port, rail and Interstate highways.




Businesses, Industries Taking part in Pick It Up Campaign


There’s a growing expectation for a cleaner, more sustainable standard of living in Calcasieu Parish for the sake of ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. Trash is a problem, but a preventable one—and it’s clear that we need to pick it up. 


Area businesses and industries understand that, and they’re increasingly stepping up to help. A worthwhile three-word goal for all of us can found in the name of the parish’s anti-litter effort: "Pick It Up.” That movement is now in its first full calendar year and is already showing results. The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s Pick It Up campaign addresses all forms of litter in all corners of the parish — and enlists people of all ages to take part.


Consider these numbers illustrating how everyone pays the consequences of litter:

  • Louisiana spends about $40 million in taxpayer dollars each year on litter removal, abatement, education and enforcement.
  • 36% of business development officials say litter affects their site choice process.
  • 32% of litter at storm drains and drainage areas is tobacco products, which worsens flooding problems.
  • Litter in a community decreases property values by nearly 10%.
  • Businesses can play a crucial role in the effort to clean up the parish. Employers can play a vital role in changing the culture around litter, starting from the standards they set for their employees. 


Here are two opportunities:

Adopt-A-Spot. Pick up trash in an area that needs it. The parish will supply free bags, gloves, pickers and vests. Sign up at pickitupcalcasieu.com.

Give authorities a heads-up. The parish has full-time anti-litter enforcement, and municipalities like Lake Charles have stepped up their fines. See litter? Call 337-493-LITR (5487) or complete the Report A Litterer form pickitupcalcasieu.com.


For more information, visit pickitupcalcasieu.com.





Diversity & Inclusion Initiative: Everyone feels at home in Southwest Louisiana


Three years ago, the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance/Chamber SWLA started an initiative to address equality in economic development and cultural competence.


Since then the agency oversaw the creation of the Business Development and Inclusion Task Force, acknowledged businesses that display diversity programing on a day-to-day basis, provided training and participated in other area outreach.


This year, the Task Force is in the process of growing its numbers and starting committee work with an emphasis on educating and influencing Chamber members and the organization’s partners to foster diverse and inclusive practices to improve the five-parish region’s competitive edge.


With over 1,300 members which represent tens of thousands of employees, the Chamber "family” is where the Task Force will focus its efforts with the belief that policy initiatives, programing and advocacy will impact the whole region in a positive manner.


Two committees have been formed for 2020 which will report to the Task Force. 

  • Business Development/Procurement Committee: enables the creation of pathways for disadvantaged and minority (definition includes racial minorities, women, veterans, disabled citizens and other impacted communities) members to participate in governmental and private enterprise contracts, advocate for policies and legislation to ensure equal opportunity, utilize best practices, spearhead creation of a business  database, and sponsor trainings and networking events.
  • Sustainable Inclusion Committee: focus on Chamber members "soft skills” through training, networking events, panel discussions and messaging. The goal of the committee is to nurture an open, inviting and inclusive business environment that benefits the Chamber SWLA members and rest of the community. The committee will research best practices that promote inclusion and cultural competency.


Earlier this year, the Task Force selected Chamber members Global Management and Billy Navarre Auto Group for its annual awards that were presented at the Chamber SWLA’s annual banquet.


While working within the Chamber SWLA world, the Task Force strives to collaborate with civic groups, non-profit agencies, academics, industry and governmental leaders on events and programing to help make our region become even more diverse.

 

Cultural Competency


Cultural competence involves understanding and appropriately responding to the unique combination of cultural variables and the full range of dimension of diversity that individuals bring to interaction.

 

Five Principles of Cultural Competence

1.      Open attitude

2.      Self-awareness

3.      Awareness of others

4.      Cultural knowledge

5.      Cultural skills




Progress Report New I-10 Bridge


While the completion of a new I-10 Bridge project is still projected to be years away, the Chamber SWLA I-10 Bridge Task Force and both state and federal delegations have been successful in moving the project forward.  


"More progress has been made in the past year since we released our recommendations, than in the past 30 years, which is when the first discussions regarding the need for a new bridge began,” said Keith DuRousseau, I-10 Bridge Task Force Chair. 


Elected officials agree the Task Force has been successful in keeping attention focused on the long overdue replacement bridge at both the state and federal levels.  "Progress has been made, but a firm plan for funding and moving forward is still not in place,” says George Swift, President/CEO of the SWLA Economic Development Alliance.  "We are closer than we’ve ever been before, without a doubt. Continued support from area elected officials, business leaders and the SWLA community remains critical.” 


Milestones of the Past Year Include:

  • President Trump made a commitment to build this bridge if elected and to making sure preparations for the project moved forward now.
  • Governor John Bel Edwards committed $85 million in state funding as the state match to the promised federal funding.
  • Designation of a project manager for the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge project.
  • LA DOTD changed the location of ingress and egress in Westlake to the one proposed by the Task Force.
  • Louisiana Legislature passed a bill dedicating any industrial spill damage funds to a newly created Calcasieu Parish Bridge Fund.
  • LA DOTD has selected a list of potential contractors. 
  • Concurrent resolution passed by Louisiana Legislature directing LA DOTD to work with the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge Task Force to continue to move the bridge project forward.
  • Funds committed by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, Lake Charles City Council and the Calcasieu Parish Industrial Development Board to support the campaign to build a new bridge.
  • President Trump, on another visit to Lake Charles, reiterates his commitment and that of the federal government to building a new bridge over the Calcasieu. 


This bridge is the most critical infrastructure project in the United States, located in the center of the nation’s largest industrial construction zone, where America’s emerging energy independence and worldwide dominance is taking place. Southwest Louisiana leads the state – and the nation – in economic development, with over $108 billion in industrial projects. "These projects provide thousands of new jobs and deliver millions to our economy,” stressed DuRousseau. "A new bridge is a vital link in the infrastructure needed to sustain continued growth. We will not stop until it is reality.”


The public can express their support for a new I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge under the "get involved” section of www.buildourbridge.org. A simple form will send a message out to elected officials at the state and federal level.  


Bridge History and Overview 

  • When the current I-10 Calcasieu River bridge opened for traffic in 1952, it was designed for a traffic load of 37,000 per day and a 50-year life span. 
  • Today, the average daily crossings are over 90,000. 
  • Safety and structural concerns regarding the bridge are well-documented. The National Bridge Inventory (NBI) has rated the bridge a 6.6 out of 100. 
  • For over 30 years, this project has been delayed and left for future generations to solve.
  • Chamber SWLA formed the I-10 Calcasieu Bridge Task Force to pursue any and all funding options to make a new bridge a reality sooner, rather than later.
  • In January 2019, after exhaustive research seeking funding options and finding there were none available, the group released recommendations that provided the state with a well-researched, detailed action plan that would result in a new bridge within five years without incurring any debt or requiring any tax revenue.



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