Is Shreveport-Bossier competitive enough to reel in big business?

Is Shreveport-Bossier competitive enough to reel in big business?

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Monday brought news that a technology firm with "good-paying jobs in the $70,000 range" will be headquartered in New Orleans.

But what about Shreveport-Bossier City?

"I think there are very good opportunities," said Scott Martinez, president of North Louisiana Economic Partnership. "... But we have to be realistic about what those expectations are."

Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler has confirmed that the city tossed its hat in the ring to land Amazon.

"We really wish we could say that Amazon is coming," she said. "We did reach out to Amazon.

"But we don't have the assets that they need. But we're going to be looking to see how else we can assist them."

That begs the question: Why aren't big companies moving into the area?

As far as Amazon is concerned, Shreveport-Bossier City failed to meet several requirements.

Among other things, Amazon was looking for:

  • a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) of at least 1 million people,
  • a city within 45 minutes of an international airport,
  • a major highway within 2 miles of the building,
  • mass transit to the building, and,
  • a building with the ability to grow to 8 million square feet.

Rocky Rockett, executive director of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation, said he has reached out to Baton Rouge to see what his area would have to do to put up a bigger fight for businesses.

"One being transportation access through air that large headquarters operations look for and, of course, our infrastructure for transportation and public transportation along those lines."

Bossier City is investing in changes to make the twin cities more attractive, Rockett added.

"We've made investments on these changes. Got to invest on your education, got to invest your infrastructure, you got to invest in your transportation infrastructure. So when you make those kind of investments, so I think everybody kind of sees when they're investing in themselves. We want to be a part of that."

Shreveport-Bossier City is not far behind other areas of Louisiana, Martinez said.

"We already have big companies like that. ... Perhaps not the 2,000 jobs that are being announced in New Orleans today.

"But those jobs are going to take place in a time frame between now and 2024. So that's over the next couple of years," he said.

"And I look at CSC and they're already at 600 jobs."

Martinez and Rockett agree that the area has come a long way in a short period of time.

They also note that the area has managed to grab some big-name companies such as CenturyLink and the former GM plant.

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