David Rockett: Setting priorities for economic development

Locally, there are many factors which can impact the further growth and success of our community and surrounding areas. Business leaders are not the only ones taking note of the importance of economic priorities.  Citizens are seemingly paying close attention as this year’s early voting period for the municipal election showed a record setting voter turnout. The Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation (GBEDF) has been fortunate to have experienced a long-standing history of positive working relationships with local elected officials which have aided in the advancement of our economic development agenda. As the leadership organization for economic development in Bossier City and Bossier Parish, we work to position Bossier to be competitive in securing new jobs and investment. 

The future success and development of Bossier and northwest Louisiana centers around key, specific priorities which will help to stimulate growth. Together, we look to the future with a greater focus on the following priorities which are critical to enhancing and forwarding our economic development agenda:

Continued investment in infrastructure

Both Bossier City and Parish have worked together in the past to create and invest in long-range transportation plans. This forward-thinking and collaborative approach has not only helped to alleviate traffic congestion, but has helped to spur residential and business development. We have seen many of these successful projects come to fruition and look forward to the commitment to see ongoing projects to completion. Specifically, future priorities should concentrate not only on traffic issues, but also include the support for the development of long-term planning for the I-69 bridge effort in south Bossier which will help to create a greater synergy with the Port of Caddo-Bossier and allow for a heavier flow for commerce.

Support future planning for Barksdale Air Force Base 

Barksdale Air Force Base (BAFB) provides a substantial economic impact in our community which totals nearly $1 billion annually. While BAFB is a major employer for the community, northwest Louisiana also retains a high percentage of military retirees from Barksdale who chose to live and work here after their service. Many of those phasing out of a military career transition into civilian careers which helps to build an attractive workforce. The further development of the Base is critical to ensure a lasting positive economic impact on our community. Leaders can support the Base’s growth by continuing an ongoing needs assessment for access, coupled with efforts of intentional planning for future growth in order to prevent encroachment. By having ongoing insight into the needs of the base, our community will be effective in providing support in an ever-changing global atmosphere so they may complete their mission. 

Encouraging additional public private partnerships 

Bossier has placed significant investments in projects such as the East Bank District, LA Boardwalk Outlets, and the Cyber Innovation Center. These projects serve as premiere examples of successful public private partnerships which has shown great promise and helped to garner Bossier national attention. GDIT has grown to create an 1,100-person facility in a previous untapped sector of the economy with the assistance of state and local partners. The most recent example of a public private partnership is the investment in the Bossier City arena. The facility has secured a sponsorship investment and has been named the Brookshire’s Grocery Arena. The new partnership will allow for additional growth as we move out of the current pandemic. Building on current initiatives such as these while securing federal dollars for additional projects will help to provide services to benefit our local population while spurring economic development.  

David “Rocky” Rockett is the Executive Director of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation.