Louisiana’s top economic development official assists Shreveport Mayor’s transition team

Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins’ transition initiative played host on Friday to the top economic development official from the Louisiana Economic Development Department. 

The department’s secretary, Don Pierson, appeared Friday morning before the Future of Shreveport Economic Development Committee gathering information to help set the mayor’s agenda. Pierson leads state economic development activities in the administration of Gov. John Bel Edwards. 

Pierson’s appearance demonstrated his commitment to supporting economic development in Shreveport. He emphasized taking advantage of the city’s strengths. 

“What are the leverage points? The Biomedical Research Foundation. You have the port, the airport. You have a KCS railyard that is bigger than Kansas City’s,’’ Pierson said.”You look for unique features that make the cost of doing business lower.’’ 

Pierson was accompanied by Patrick Witty, who is executive director of community competitiveness and small business services in the Louisiana Department of Economic Development. 

Pierson also stressed Shreveport’s importance to northwest Louisiana. 

“Shreveport is the regional hub,’’ he said. “What happens in the region is good for you. I want you to think regionally.’’ 

Future of Shreveport was created to advise Mayor Perkins on setting the agenda for his term as mayor. The initiative is led by an 11-member transition advisory board. Eight committees are gathering information to present to the advisory board. 

Pierson spoke to the committee focusing on economic development. The other committees are Community Partners, Technology, Infrastructure, Education, Entertainment, Public Safety and Quality of Life. All eight committees met for the second time on Thursday and Friday to collect input. They are to meet again in March and April. 

Gov. Edwards appointed Pierson as LED secretary in January 2016. Before that, he had served as assistant secretary and senior director of business development since 2005. Earlier, Pierson served for 17 years in the Shreveport/Bossier City community as executive director of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation. He is a past president of the Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and served as an infantry officer in the 32nd Airborne Division. 

Future of Shreveport is the private non-profit created to organize Mayor Perkins’ transition work. The transition advisory board will write a “white paper” report by early May recommending specific actions that the mayor’s team can undertake during his four-year term.