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(Stacey Tinsley/BIZ. Magazine)

Economist shares promising outlook for NWLA’s economy

The Shreveport-Bossier area was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is making a strong recovery.

Economist Dr. Loren Scott presented an outlook on Louisiana’s economy during a stop last October at the Regional Commerce Center at the Port of Caddo-Bossier. This outlook predicted what Shreveport-Bossier can expect to see over the next two years. 

Like every other MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) in the state, the Shreveport-Bossier area, which is the fourth-largest MSA in Louisiana, was impacted heavily by the ongoing pandemic. 

Gross revenues at the MSA’s gaming venues had not only fully recovered by 2021-Q2 but also had reached a new record for the MSA of $176 million.

Additional good news is that Shreveport-Bossier is projected to be on an expansion path over the next two years.

Looking towards job growth in the Shreveport-Bossier area, it is projected that after COVID recovery in 2021, this MSA will pick up 5,500 new jobs (+3.2%) in 2022 and another 2,800 jobs (+1.6%) in 2023, the report reads.

This projection is largely due to new job sources. One of those new job sources Dr. Scott highlighted is the future Amazon facility that is currently under construction in Shreveport.

The other large job source is the Haynesville Shale.

“We are expecting the rig count in the Haynesville Shale to go up. You’ve got new pipelines, one that will move that natural gas down to our LNG facilities on the coast. All that put together looks very good for the Haynesville Shale,” Dr. Scott said. 

Dr. Scott discussed steady employment growth that has aided in local economic recovery. 

A serious growth engine has been the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier Parish. There are now 1,200 people working at the three units at the park.

GDIT is the largest player with about 1,100 high-wage jobs and another 300 at the call center on Benton Road. Construction is underway on the $22 million Louisiana Tech Research Institute, which will start with about 200 employees when it initially opens in 2022, before growing to 500.

Dr. Scott also noted that the National Cyber Research Park attracts 4,000-plus visitors per year. With the additional visitors coming to northwest Louisiana, they are spending their money in local restaurants, hotels, and other venues. 

Another job facility that is still a regional job economy booster for the area, is the Port of Caddo-Bossier. He noted there are 1,763 people employed at the various firms at the Port, which is only 500 jobs lower than the total civilian workforce at the huge Barksdale Air Force Base.

“One of the real bright lights in the Shreveport-Bossier economy over the past several years has been the Port of Caddo-Bossier. Looking forward, these units will still be adding jobs and capital expenditures to the region,” Dr. Scott said.

Additional jobs are projected from a number of other sources over the next two years. 

The Ochsner-LSU Health Sciences Center was a major job contributor over the past two years and should continue over 2022-23. This is projected to add 240 new jobs over 2022-23 and spend some $25 million a year on capital projects, the report reads.

Lastly Honeywell is making an additional $75 million investment at its plant on Mooringsport Road, which will generate 15 new jobs, the report continued.

Bia Energy Operating Company evaluating plans for $550M plant at Port of Caddo-Bossier

Bia Energy Operating Company announced that it is evaluating a $550 million blue methanol production plant that would be located at the Port of Caddo-Bossier in Shreveport, Louisiana. If the plant becomes operational, the company would create 75 direct new jobs, with an average annual salary of $80,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project would result in 390 indirect jobs, for a total of 465 new jobs in Louisiana’s Northwest region. Nearly 350 construction jobs would be created at peak construction for the project.

If it moves forward, BEOC plans to locate its facility on a 74-acre site located at the Port of Caddo-Bossier. The company is expected to make a final decision in the 1st quarter of 2022, with construction expected to last approximately two years, and commercial operations to begin soon after.

“BRF and its partners have been working on this project for three years,” said BRF President and CEO and Bia Energy Board Member John F. George Jr., M.D. “Financial analysts in BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) helped BEOC secure investment funds from the New Louisiana Angel Fund and BRF. This initial funding was important to moving the project through the front-end engineering and environmental permitting phase. As a team Louisiana Economic Development, North Louisiana Economic Partnership, the Port of Caddo-Bossier and BRF have worked together to establish BEOC and position them in the final stages of investment consideration. This is how economic development should work.”

Ternium USA to invest $98 Million in Shreveport facility expansion

Ternium USA Inc. announced at the end of 2021 that is planning to expand its facility at the Port of Caddo-Bossier with an investment of $98 million. The company is retaining 157 jobs, and the project will create 35 new direct jobs with an average salary of $69,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in 98 indirect jobs, for a total of 133 new jobs in Louisiana’s Northwest Region.

Ternium, a leading steel producer in the Americas, is adding a second coil coating paint line with an annual capacity of 120,000 tons, which will increase its production capacity in the U.S. by 53 percent, among other improvements. The coil coating process consists of cleaning, treating and painting flat sheet metal that is rolled into coils. The reinvestment in the Shreveport facility is the latest addition to Ternium’s goal of providing a full menu of state-of-the-art options for the metal building industry.

“Ternium’s expansion at the Port of Caddo-Bossier will bring new jobs and economic momentum to the Northwest Region of our state. Ternium’s decision to reinvest in its Shreveport plant is a testament to Louisiana’s welcoming business climate, highly skilled workforce, and world-class transportation infrastructure,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

Construction on the facility expansion was planned to commence in the first quarter of 2022. The company expects commercial operations at the added production line to begin by mid 2024.

“This new coil coating expansion in Shreveport is part of our strategy to support the joint growth of our company and that of our loyal customers by adding complementary volume, range, and services to our existing local platform,” said Michael Guhl, President of Ternium USA. “We are thankful to Governor Edwards and the LED team for their tireless work on behalf of the greater Shreveport community and their support for local manufacturing, and we look forward to continuing to invest in our people and production capabilities.”

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