To fulfill its mission to diversify and grow our region’s economy, BRF is focused on starting, recruiting, and retaining businesses and their economic impact in Northwest Louisiana. In 2020, BRF founded Shreveport Next to focus on recruiting small to mid-sized companies from across the country to relocate or build new facilities in the Shreveport-Bossier area.
BRF’s Shreveport Next takes a unique approach to economic development recruiting. Rather than waiting for companies to come to Shreveport Next, we examine data to identify companies with growing pains that provide an opportunity to engage. This circumstance might be the need for more space, or even a growth in production that changes the logistical needs of the company.
One of the main tenets of the Shreveport Next approach is to remain flexible throughout the recruitment process. Our Shreveport Next recruitment work is complemented by the State’s toolbox of public incentives, but what makes our approach different is our ability to meet with CEOs earlier in their decision-making process, allowing the partnership to be collaborative and adaptive.
Our goals for Northwest Louisiana include growing discretionary incomes, increasing upward professional mobility, and spreading good news about the region. Each year, Shreveport Next aims to meet with at least 100 CEOs of growing small and midsize companies. In those meetings, we provide a value proposition and mutual benefit for the company and Northwest Louisiana.
We look at 15 targeted markets in the United States, all with a critical mass of high-growth companies. In the first two years, we have met with 250 CEOs, and four companies have relocated to the Shreveport area. Of those four companies, two are defense contractors, and two are software companies.
With a regional 45-minute laborshed of 590,000 residents and as many as 800 service members transitioning to the workforce per year from nearby Barksdale Air Force Base, as well as a large number of college graduates every year, the Shreveport area has a talented potential workforce. This educated and trained workforce makes Shreveport a contender for companies looking to relocate.
For companies that need access to modes of transportation, Shreveport offers two interstates, two class one rail lines, an airport with a customs point of entry, and an inland river port – The Port of Caddo-Bossier, a partner of Shreveport Next. Northwest Louisiana is a global, multimodal hub and uniquely situated to provide many options when it comes to transportation.
Perhaps the strongest advantage for Northwest Louisiana is that we are not dependent on “one thing.” There are multiple modes of transportation, multiple sources of new talent, and a wide range of existing industry. Shreveport Next can take its firsthand knowledge of the business landscape in Northwest Louisiana and be creative in developing a plan that addresses the needs of each individual company.
Ultimately, our approach is to translate the available incentives to companies in a way that is relevant to each company’s needs. Looking forward to the year ahead, we are excited about the addition of a Business Recruitment Specialist to our team. This new position will focus on research and the initial outreach to prospective companies. With a new year comes more opportunities to truly target companies that are a good fit for Shreveport.
Shreveport Next’s mission is to recruit companies to the region, and the underlying message of spreading good news about Northwest Louisiana is one that we should all carry. One thing that we, the members of the Shreveport community, can do to help bring these companies to our region is simply be excited and remain positive about the place we call home.
Director of Business Recruitment, Shreveport Next