Johnson: Taking a regional approach

Over the past several years, the Bossier Chamber has been focusing more on a regional effort when it comes to building programs and opportunities for our businesses and the community at large. In fact, our increase in a regional attitude spurred us to use the hashtag #bettertogether as our theme of 2018.

We have two programs in particular that have become more of a regional partnership than just Bossier Chamber events – the Legislative Summit and Innovation North LA.

In fact we have gone beyond Northwest Louisiana to encompass all of North Louisiana as we work together along the I-20 technology corridor. The innovative companies and education happening along this corridor are phenomenal and need to be touted. We hope that Innovation North LA will continue to grow to get the word out that we are inventive, progressive, business-minded and forward-thinking – INNOVATIVE – here in the north part of the state.

It was very inspiring to include Barksdale airmen in our Innovation North LA activities this year as we were able to see that innovation in our daily lives is not something only traditional businesses are searching for but the military is seeking and rewarding its airmen for thinking outside of the box as well!

“We want to help grow Innovation North Louisiana because when we talk about innovation and process improvement—we can really learn a lot from each other,” SMSgt Gregory Butler said. “There is a way the civilian sector does something and the way that the military/government side does it, so we can all help each other. I think that helps build a network for our community.”

One reason behind this regional synergy is to create an identity for North Louisiana apart from South Louisiana because we have a lot to offer. Along with Innovation North LA, we have partnered the past several years with host Monroe Chamber and other regional chambers for Northern Exposure – an opportunity for businesses to showcase North Louisiana at the state capitol.

Of course regionalism is not new, as our partners at the North Louisiana Economic Partnership have championed the 14-parish region of North Louisiana. We think we are all working toward the same goal – making our region a thriving place where people and businesses will want to locate.

Not only do we have strong businesses in the region, but our educational institutions are top-notch. Our region is flush with strong institutions that have a distinct niche where they excel from technical colleges, community colleges, two-year institutions, four-year colleges, private and public colleges, commuter schools and those with a strong on-campus residential presence, a medical school, allied health programs…and the list goes on.

But, let’s be honest – regionalism makes sense from a monetary standpoint as well. In an era where monies are becoming scarce, budgets are tightening and resources are more limited, having a regional attitude is the best approach. Parishes, cities and towns within a region can still each excel in different areas but utilizing each other’s strengths is key.

Take this next big step with us in talking about how great our region is. North Louisiana has so much to offer and we are proud to call it home. We hope you are, too!

Lisa Johnson is President and CEO of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce