Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Justyn Dixon: Progress and success in economic development

by BIZ Magazine

The past six months have been eventful for North Louisiana and the North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP). From major project announcements to growing the NLEP team of high caliber economic development professionals, NLEP is laser-focused on developing a program of work to support new capital investment and job creation in the region. I was brought on as President of the NLEP in late March with early goals to build our economic development team, strengthen relationships with local partners, and undertake an honest assessment of the portfolio of sites available for development. I am encouraged by the progress that has taken place so far.

Having quality sites is vital to our ability to attract jobs and capital investment.  Combined with the strong multimodal transportation assets we have here – interstate, rail, air and river – a list of shovel-ready sites that meet the current and future needs of industry will make North Louisiana a tough competitor to beat. It was the newly certified Hunter Industrial Park that got the attention of Amazon and led to the announcement in May of the Amazon Robotics Fulfillment Center coming to North Shreveport. Our team worked diligently with Amazon and local and state partners for nearly a year to land the company’s first robotics fulfillment center in Louisiana, but it was the site and Shreveport’s strategic location along Interstate 20 that attracted them in the first place. Construction is underway on the $200 million facility, and it is anticipated by summer of 2022 Amazon will be hiring 1,000 full-time positions paying a $15 per hour minimum wage plus benefits. Progress on the site is moving quickly and is on track to be complete by late 2022.

Building a remarkable team is key for success in economic development, as it is often the first face of a region to site selection and corporate location professionals. When I joined NLEP this spring, I discovered an excellent team of Certified Economic Development and Finance Professionals, who are viewed as leaders throughout the industry and in our local communities. Our goal now is to expand the team to produce an even greater impact on our region’s economic development competitiveness. This summer we welcomed a Marketing and Communications Director, whose role is critical in developing and executing new marketing and attraction strategies to capture the attention of prospects and positively promote North Louisiana and its assets. In August, we added a new position of Economic Development Specialist, who will bring bench strength to our Business Development team with a focus on project management. Next to join our team will be a Business Development Specialist, whose focus will be aggressive outside-the-market business attraction and network building.

But the team it takes to win projects is bigger than our staff alone, it includes municipal and parish leaders and subject matter experts, utility partners, property owners, workforce training providers and state government. All parties must be rowing in the same direction and with a sense of urgency to compete effectively. I have been impressed by the team spirit of our local and state partners and I believe that together we can make progress on enhancing North Louisiana’s ability to compete and win like never before.

 Justyn Dixon | President & CEO of North Louisiana Economic Partnership