The calendar has turned over and at the start of 2019, the theme for the year could be one of change. Perhaps the biggest of all already being that Shreveport has a new mayor.
At the time of this column’s writing, Adrian Perkins was set to be sworn in on Dec. 29. The 33-year-old West Point and Harvard Law school graduate won by a landslide against incumbent Ollie Tyler in a Dec. 8 runoff. Largely, according to political analysts, on a groundswell of support for something new.
Perkins energized the base of under-40 residents, utilizing social media and the old fashioned method of walking neighborhoods ad knocking on doors. It seems to have resulted in upsetting the traditional power base and perceived attitudes about who should lead Shreveport. Perkins represents youth, energy, and optimism.
At his acceptance speech last month, Perkins revealed some of his plans for Shreveport. Some are no-brainers — crime and jobs — and some are really progressive — tech infrastructure and a technology officer focusing on smart city initiatives. All will be difficult to implement. Especially for a system that seems adverse to change.
I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Perkins. And for full disclosure, I don’t live in Shreveport. But I believe in Shreveport. Some people want to see a wall erected on the west side of the Red River. Some people think the east side of the river is full of backwards rednecks. All I know is that a healthy Shreveport is good for Shreveport and Bossier. I wish the best to Mayor Perkins on the task that awaits him.
On top of his initiatives he hopes to bring to pass, I want to add one to his list. It’s something simple, but long coming for the City of Shreveport.
A new economic foundation.
The previous administration did admirably considering it had a staff of one. But it seemed, from an outsider, to be an island. It’s a model that can’t work with the needs of the City of Shreveport.
A new office needs to be created that will work with the Caddo Parish Commission, Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, Shreveport Bossier African American Chamber of Commerce, North Louisiana Economic Partnership, Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation, and coordinate with relevant offices in the city government — MPC, for example — to help strengthen those bonds between various businesses, work to recruit and incentivize new business location, and present a united front that shows Shreveport is open for business.
No longer can the base of Shreveport be divided among racial, economic, or age lines. Opportunities to revitalize a community with an economic win don’t come often. That is a lesson I’m sure the new mayor can recognize, considering his recent victory.
Of course, there are a lot of mitigating quality of life factors. But if we have faith that Mayor Perkins can change things, then this can grow beside each other to be able to capitalize when opportunity presents itself.
So in this year of change, I ask that he push through one more. It could be lead to the biggest change of them all.
Sean Green is publisher and editor of BIZ. Magazine