Bossier Parish Police Juror and restauranteur Jack Skaggs is CEO for the Coordinating and Development Corporation. The CDC is a private, nonprofit, member-supported corporation that serves 10 parishes in northwest Louisiana, 10 counties in northeast Texas, and five counties in southwest Arkansas. They assist their members in expanding economic opportunities through securing funding for communities to improve their quality of life, advising new businesses/entrepreneurs, providing business financing, and helping economic development efforts.
“When rural parishes are in a predicament, they call us,” Skaggs said. “When a bridge goes out, we can consult on it. We can work with Louisiana Economic Development to help get caveats for a business to come to town. We can hold an entrepreneur’s hand to help them get their business up and running. We can assist in the grant writing process.”
Skaggs was originally hired as COO in December 2016. He now manages the different divisions of the CDC, which include Economic Development, Workforce Development, and Community Development.
“The CDC was designed for economic development…Our funding stems from receiving a federal grant to fund workforce development,” he explained.
The CDC’s Division of Workforce Development is the Northwest Louisiana representative for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) (excluding the City of Shreveport). As such, and through our network of Business and Career Solutions Centers, CDC is available to help employers locate qualified employees and assist job seekers with training and employment opportunities.
“Everything else is ancillary. That makes up the majority of staff, majority of our funding,” he said. “Economic development takes a long time to see. But workforce is the easiest to put a number on when it comes to cause and effect.”
CDC’s workforce training consists of programs for youth workforce, adult workforce, and dislocated workers, all of which are able to be utilized by employers to build their workforce.
Skaggs said on the job training is one of the CDC’s hidden gems.
“It’s totally underused. People just don’t know about it,” said Skaggs. “It turns the wheel on unemployment back over. We’ve used it to pay for gas to getting to work, pay for books for school. It pays for these ancillary things that eliminates the excuses of not getting a job.”
Through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program, CDC provides great opportunities for youth to earn their HiSET (GED), enroll in a technical or community college, or even get assistance with tuition at a university in certain circumstances.
Skaggs said dislocated worker training is designed for a situation where, “something like the GM plant is going to close down, that worker would be dislocated. So we would go in and see if his or her skills are transferable. If not, then we pay to retrain you.”
Ever busy with his involvement as advisor for a local restaurant franchisee and father and husband, Skaggs also serves his community in a civic capacity on the police jury. He says his experience with workforce development at the CDC helps him with his position as District 5 representative on the police jury.
“I like it because it’s similar. It’s about finding solutions to problems. I think being on the police jury for five years will play more into CDC than the other way around.”