Monday, June 17, 2024

David Rockett: Pivoting, planning, and arising from COVID market shifts

by BIZ Magazine

I hope we are seeing the waning days of the COVID express.  We have all suffered illness and loss along the way within the pandemic and especially in our economy. 

We have felt upheaval that appears to be lifting.  Since the beginning of the year, the GBEDF has seen a steady rise in both investments and interest from various developers in various markets. 

Restaurants and hospitality seem to be on the upswing while industrial appears to be headed into positive territory.  

One of the more interesting challenges we have witnessed in the days of covid lock down is the loss of intellectual capital.  With lock down came the sense from older employees that retirement may not be as bad as once thought with retirement came the loss of teaching a newer generation of skilled labor how to provide their trades in an efficient and profitable manner.  

With that, I sense that our education institutions will continue to be looked upon to fill that labor gap and help teach the next generation of skilled labor trades and practices that require certifications, while earning a very good living commensurate with white collar occupations.  

The GBEDF has seen significant interest spurred along by low interest rates in development of housing and soon we anticipate additional industrial expansions. All of this being said, we still suffered great loss in retail locally that affected us from national decisions. 

 It is our belief that retail will continue to search for that avenue to reach customers either through varied online options with small delivery stores or pursue contracts with delivery vehicles that work exclusively with larger retail groups.  Locally there is great interest in the Amazon distribution facility under construction in North Shreveport.  

This announcement only solidified what many of us in economic development have been saying for some time, that we collectively are in a prime distribution location that will allow major companies to hub service their customers from here. 

Whether through rail or water or truck, we are sitting in a prime location to reach an enormous population within a day’s drive.  This will lead to additional interest which then begs the question of available land and labor, as mentioned earlier, for our market.  

Labor should become more available once the stimulus actions drain out, land studies have been completed to spot options for added development that wouldn’t interfere with localized traffic and allow commerce easy access to interstate systems.  

Our colleagues at the Port of Caddo Bossier recognize this and are working on an I-49 access road for Hwy 1 traffic as well as the interchange for Barksdale Air Force Base on the eastern side of Bossier.  

The new announcement of an additional bridge connecting Bossier, and Shreveport is still in the presentation stages yet seems very intriguing to assist in logistics for our community.  In summation, after COVID in our area looks positive, yet we still must be aware of the pandemic issues, especially should another situation arise that knocks all our efforts back a step or two.  

David “Rocky” Rockett | Executive Director, Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation.

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