Thursday, June 20, 2024

Loren Scott presents NWLA economic outlook for 2024-2025

by BIZ Magazine

On Friday, October 6, 2023, at LSU Shreveport’s University Center Theater, Dr. Loren Scott, a renowned economist and economic forecaster, delivered his annual Northwest Louisiana economic forecast for 2024-2025, offering a positive outlook for the state of Louisiana.

Dr. Scott highlighted the contribution of several national companies establishing facilities in the Shreveport-Bossier area, which is expected to generate thousands of new jobs in the coming years. According to Dr. Scott’s economic outlook report, two major firms will play a pivotal role in this employment surge.

“The $200 million Amazon Fulfillment Center, set to open by mid-2024 at Hunter Industrial Park in Shreveport, is expected to employ over 1,000 people—a significant victory for our community,” the report stated.

In addition, the old GM plant, now known as the Shreveport Business Park, has found a new tenant in SLB, formerly Schlumberger. SLB is investing $18.5 million in the site, with plans to hire 600 new employees over the next three years, each earning an average annual income of $60,000. The company will manufacture and test components supporting digital infrastructure. Furthermore, two other regional manufacturers are gearing up for substantial expansions. Prolec GE is allocating $28.5 million for expanding its transformer manufacturing plant, with an expected addition of 153 employees to its current workforce of 282, from June 2023 to March 2024. Fibrebond in Minden is expanding its operations and constructing a new building on 250 acres, with an anticipated 10-15% increase in its workforce during the 2024-25 period.

The report highlighted the National Cyber Research Park (NCRP) as a consistent job creator in the Shreveport-Bossier Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The General Dynamics Integrated Technology Center (GIT), the largest NCRP tenant, currently employs 1,500 people, with plans to add another 1,000 jobs over the next five years. GIT also has 250 employees working at other sites in the MSA. In the fall of 2023, the Louisiana Tech Research Institute is set to open, accommodating 400 faculty and staff members focused on classified cyber research. The Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) employs approximately 260 people, with 200 being various tenants involved in cyber projects, 30 supporting the Air Force Global Strike Command’s Partnership Intermediary Agreement, and an additional 30 working on a grant through the Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency. The CIC is pursuing the addition of 2,000 more cybersecurity jobs through programs offered by Louisiana Tech University and Grambling State University, with the support of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. Additionally, the CIC is actively working to secure Project X, which could bring 500 new jobs over a three to four year span, further contributing to the optimistic outlook for the National Cyber Research Park.

A significant driver of economic growth in the MSA has been the Port of Caddo-Bossier, and it is expected to continue playing a vital role in the region’s economic development.

The Haynesville Shale, a substantial natural gas deposit, was also highlighted by Dr. Scott. He noted, “Shreveport-Bossier is home to the Haynesville Shale, one of the first natural gas plays to use fracking technology. In 2008, exploration companies invested $4.5 billion in the Northwestern section of Louisiana, with approximately $3.2 billion going toward mineral lease payments. The following year, this figure rose to $7 billion, including about $1 billion in mineral lease payments. The Haynesville Shale is poised to be a significant factor in this region’s economy over the next two years.”

Dr. Scott also discussed road funding, specifically focusing on the Jimmie Davis Bridge. He emphasized the substantial transportation funding allocated for the Shreveport-Bossier MSA in 2024-25.

“An unusual amount of transportation funding is headed towards the Shreveport-Bossier MSA in 2024-25. The most significant project is the $361 million effort to replace the Jimmie Davis Bridge over the Red River. The current bridge, featuring only two lanes and no shoulders, will be replaced with a four-lane bridge with shoulders. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has secured $208 million in federal funding and $18 million in state funding for the bridge’s construction,” the report noted.

— By Stacey Tinsley, BIZ.

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