The growth and progress within Bossier Parish and Bossier City has been unprecedented over the last couple of decades. Since the year 2000, population within Bossier Parish has increased by over 30 percent. Additional residents require additional services such as transportation access, schools, public safety and quality of life enhancements. The advancements in services and access to transportation has transformed this community in a relatively short amount of time; producing tangible evidence that Bossier does in fact mean business. As time marches on, we can expect to continue to see positive changes in the local area due to the pro business climate Bossier is known for.
Change happens not only in communities, but in organizations as well. Our role as the lead organization for economic development in Bossier Parish and Bossier City has remained the same; to position Bossier to be competitive in securing new jobs and investment. However, due to the tremendous growth of the area, how we execute the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation’s (GBEDF) mission is changing.
Growth and development within the parish and city has brought about a land shortage within our industrial parks. Since 2005, the GBEDF has marketed, negotiated and sold over 100 acres for development within our parish’s industrial parks. Presently, only approximately 50 acres total of development ready sites in our industrial park remain in Bossier City itself. Instead of looking at this as a challenge, the GBEDF leadership has countered by building relationships with private landowners in order to continue to market Bossier for development. Our job as a liaison between investors and developers continues to expand as the effects of growth impact the area, and we welcome conversation from those interested in investing in Bossier.
Serving as liaison between industry and landowner is not where our efforts halt. We have been active in pursuing state certification for the larger tracts of land available in Benton’s industrial parks through the Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Certified Industrial Sites Program. This rigorous certification program helps to identify development ready sites and requires an extensive application process which includes an exhaustive review. This increases the marketability of the land once obtained and the certification is helpful to have during the site selection process. The program was brought about by economic developers recognizing that the timeframe for making business location decisions has shortened and companies are becoming much more risk averse.
More recently, we have fielded interest from developers as a result of the launch of the Federal Opportunity Zone program. The Opportunity Zone program was established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to spur long-term private sector investments in low-income urban and rural communities. The program offers federal capital gains tax benefits to investors who re-invest their capital gains into Qualified Opportunity Funds. The GBEDF created the website www.InvestNWLA.com in order to provide information on the region’s designated opportunity zones. The website provides a regional overview and serves as an interactive tool where users can determine specific demographic information related to each zone in order to assist in their decision-making, navigate the Opportunity Zone investment process, and learn more about the areas designated for development.
We look forward to the future and the new opportunities brought about by positive change. We stand ready to assist the business community and welcome you to join us in our efforts to build tomorrow’s success stories today.
David “Rocky” Rockett | Executive Director of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation (GBEDF)