Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins’ Transition Advisory Board has reviewed the first reports from committees assessing priorities for the new administration in areas as varied as economic development, education, infrastructure, public safety, quality of life and more.
Members of the advisory board met Monday, February 11, to receive the first status reports from the eight committees assembled under the mayor’s Future of Shreveport initiative. Advisory board co-chairs are Graham Walker, president and CEO of the manufacturer Fibrebond, and Anthony “Tony” Williams, CEO of the consulting firm Global Resource Solutions.
“It’s good to hear that the committees had great attendance and active participation,” Walker said. “This is a testament to Shreveport that many involved citizens have united in a common cause to improve their city. Mayor Perkins is to be commended for putting together great panels.”
Williams praised the collaborative work by citizens of Shreveport to advance the city progress.
“Mayor Perkins has promised that everyone in the city will have a seat at the table,” he said. “These committee meetings are a testament to his commitment. The high expectations of these committees is evidence great civic commitment.”
Broad themes emerging from multiple committees included the importance of partnerships, workforce training, eliminating blight and improving the city permitting process. The committees also reported a general feeling of hope and opportunity in Shreveport.
Individual committees reported these early thoughts about city priorities from their initial meetings with stakeholders in each area.
The Community Partners Committee expressed concern about public and blight. It recommended:
- More mentoring and technical education in blue-collar industries.
- Make a concerted effort to eliminate segregation in schools, churches and non-profit organizations, working in part through neighborhood associations.
- The Economic Development Committee suggested that the key industries to target for growth are in technology and distribution. It also reported that workforce development and downtown revitalization are key to Shreveport’s future. And it recommended:
- Creating local economic development incentives to complement state incentives.
- Creating a business-friendly environment, including by improving the permitting process.
The Education Committee recommended:
- Partnerships among schools, universities, employers and vocational educators.
- That city government bring together educators and businesses to assess workforce needs to assist schools in developing education and training programs to meet those needs.
- Prioritize and invest in early childhood education, after-school programs and summer youth programs.
The Entertainment Committee reported that barriers to working with city government to host events need to be eliminated, including making it easier to obtain permits. It also recommended:
- Creating a comprehensive list of events.
- Improving promotion of events, including public-access TV.
- Creating more parking capacity and more outdoor venues.
The Infrastructure Committee recommended:
- Requiring utility companies to coordinate with city government on the timing of street cuts.
- Producing and providing to the public maps of all utility and construction projects.
- Invest in police stations, street repair, beautification of downtown and neighborhoods, and technology.
- Consider reducing the number of city parks and other SPAR assets.
The Public Safety Committee recommended more investment in police technology and professional development. It suggested that problems to address are:
- Hiring, retaining, training, morale and public trust in the police deparment.
- Internal interpersonal relationships among police employees.
- Inaccurate reporting of the city crime rate.
- Methamphetamine and human trafficking.
The Quality of Life Committee suggested that city government should address inequity among residents in transportation, food, safety and housing. It also recommended issuing a “call to action” to encourage more citizen engagement and the creation of a culture of service, and pursuing more Opportunity Zones as another tactic for improving quality of life.
The Technology Committee recommended:
- Investing in technology and broadband.
- Creating city-wide WIFI service.
- Working with neighborhood associations to identify areas that need internet service providers.
- Supporting the city’s new chief technology officer, Keith Hanson, in his vision to centralize all city government IT.
The eight committees all have met once. They are scheduled to meet again on February 21 and 22. A third and fourth round of meetings will follow.
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. In addition to Walker and Williams, members of the transition advisory board are:
- Dr. Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University System.
- Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, a retired Army officer who served as the senior military commander in Iraq and was superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, among other posts.
- Lt. Gen. Robert Elder, a retired Air Force officer who now is a research professor with the Volgenau School of Engineering at George Mason University.
- Gerald Fruq, the Louis D. Brandeis Professor at Harvard Law School.
- Rachel Lawler, owner of RACHEL & Co. Realty in Shreveport.
- Kay Medlin, a founding member and managing partner of the law firm Bradley Murchison Kelly & Shea L.L.C.
- Elliott Rodgers, senior vice president of logistics at Ulta Beauty, the nation’s largest beauty retailer.
- Tangela Sylvie, principal of Cherokee Park Elementary School.
- Shanté Y.R. Wells, a lawyer who practices in Shreveport in the areas of criminal defense, personal injury and municipal bond law.