Monday, June 17, 2024

LSUS presents economic, nonprofit data at Shreveport Chamber event

by BIZ Magazine

Business leaders descended upon the LSUS campus Sept. 13 to hear about how the university is an economic engine for the region. 

The Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, of which LSUS is a member, hosted a ‘What’s Happening’ breakfast in which LSUS officials presented updates on the state of the university, the condition of Louisiana’s nonprofit organizations and the state of the regional economy. 

“The dynamic nature of this data we think is really important to understand what is happening in our community,” said Tim Magner, president of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. “We’re so pleased to partner with LSUS and excited about what this information can do for the community.” 

Despite the majority of universities across the state and nation seeing enrollment dips, LSUS recorded its second-highest enrollment total in school history with 9,377. 

The campus grew its undergraduate (+62 students) and graduate (+721 students) population, increasing its total enrollment by more than nine percent. 

“It’s a challenging time for higher education in this country – that’s no secret,” said LSUS Chancellor Dr. Robert Smith. “There are two million fewer students enrolled in college this fall than just a few years ago.”

Through on-campus centers, LSUS collects and analyzes data about the local economy and state and local nonprofit organizations. 

Douglas White, who describes himself as Dr. Gloom when it comes to interpreting economic data, said the local economy has been surprisingly resilient despite inflation and mortgage rates continuing to rise. 

“As a whole in the area, we seem to be doing pretty good if not great,” said White, the director for the Center for Business and Economic Research at LSUS. “The trends we’re following seem to be pretty stable. 

“If you would have asked me (18 months ago) what I thought the economy would look like today, I would have expected it to be much worse. We might actually be heading for this soft landing that I definitely didn’t think would happen.” 

The inflation rate is up 3.5 percent year-over-year, which is higher than the Federal Reserve’s two percent target but much better than a nine percent increase this time last year. 

The City of Shreveport has collected 3.4 percent more taxes, and building permits are up more than five percent. 

The local unemployment did rise more than a percentage point to 4.6 percent in the second quarter, but it’s historically relatively low. 

Local housing prices haven’t dropped despite seven percent mortgage interest rates, and the median price of a house in Shreveport Bossier is $247,200. 

LSUS also houses the Institute for Nonprofit Administration and Research (INAR), which collects and analyzes data about local and statewide nonprofits. 

Dr. Heather Carpenter, the INAR interim executive director, said nonprofits play a large role in the state and local economy. 

“In Shreveport-Bossier, there are (nearly 1,600) active nonprofit organizations that brought in more than $4 billion in annual revenue for 2022,” Carpenter said. “In the state, there were (nearly 17,000) active nonprofits that account for eight percent of the workforce and brought in $31 billion in 2022.” 

Most nonprofits claim between $100,000 to $500,000 in income. 

In Shreveport-Bossier, 34 percent of active nonprofits fall within this income range. 

Nonprofits in the health sector saw the biggest increase in income because of COVID-19 funds, contributing to the largest nonprofit in the area Christus Health Northern Louisiana ($1.2 billion). 

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