Optimism for economic development

pLED's Don Pierson was keynote speaker for BRF's 2021 Annual Meeting. (via BRF Facebook page)

LED’s Don Pierson showcases the reasons for optimism when it comes to economic development in northwest Louisiana during BRF meeting

A major state economic leader noted there is reason to be optimistic about development in northwest Louisiana during BRF’s Annual Meeting held Nov. 9 in Shreveport.

LED Secretary Don Pierson was the guest speaker for the event. He said that despite losses such as Libbey Glass, there is reason to be optimistic and there has been success in northwest Louisiana over the past year.

“As you look at the past year, it’s easy to forget all the good things that are happening,” he said.

Dr. John George, president of BRF, illustrated how some of those reasons for optimism come from his own organization when he thanked donors to the new 20,000 sq. ft. Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy facility currently under construction in Shreveport and the Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program endowment that builds small but scalable businesses in NWLA.

He credited LED for the economic development in northwest Louisiana, saying, “They are the grease that makes everything happen in the engine. If it wasn’t for their incentives, there would be no way for us to attract industry here.”

Pierson discussed the need to remain competitive in a global market that has competition from not only regional and state agencies, but the entire world.

“If the train of opportunity passes you by, it doesn’t circle back,” Pierson warned. “It’s best to not have all your eggs in one basket.”

He went on to underscore the importance of Barksdale Air Force Base, the under-construction Amazon distribution warehouse, Port of Caddo-Bossier and Benteler Steel, the cybersecurity and information technology industry, and the promise of renewable energy.

Speaking to that, Pierson said global realities are putting more pressure on reducing greenhouse gases and finding renewable resources to power the economy. He added there’s a transition ongoing to a new “phase” that will use less fossil fuels.

“Don’t get me wrong — the hydrocarbon molecule is not going away. We’re not shutting down oil and gas. That’s your feedstock for so many things that drive life,” he said.

He added that Louisiana is the No. 2 producer of oil and gas in the nation and Shreveport has been an energy hub for many years.

However, he noted that Louisiana and its unique geology means that state can be a leader in clean energy such as biodiesel production, sequestering carbon dioxide. For NWLA, he noted there are opportunities in the existing energy cluster, strong research assets, and support from regional partners.

Another area to be optimistic about is No shortage of trying to recruit additional investments in the advanced manufacturing industry and that an announcement in this industry should be coming soon.

“I was excited to hear about 3D printing of knee braces that EAP is doing. That’s a great example of Advanced Manufacturing,” said Pierson.

Pierson also noted a reason for optimism includes cybersecurity and information technology y pointing to the presence of GDIT, Cyber Innovation Center, Louisiana Tech Research Institute and the National Cyber Research Park, as well as cybersecurity education being a focus among education partners.

“Gathering that workforce is a key component. Great things are happening,” said Pierson.

Finally, he thanked leaders in Baton Rouge who secure allocations that power LED and its incentives programs.

“(Incentives) help us compete. Some people say we don’t need incentives and I say, ‘That may be true, if no one else has them either. We don’t find ourselves in that position,’” Pierson said.

— BIZ. Magazine

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