September 5, 2006 at 9:57 PM CDT - Updated July 26 at 8:35 PM
15. Much of the notable growth and development in Southeast Shreveport and along Youree Drive has come at the expense of declining activity in other parts of the city, particularly Southwest Shreveport in the Jewella/Mansfield Road corridor. How will your administration seek to balance this inequity? How will you help growth in the North Shreveport area?
Arlena Acree My economic plan, (EGOZ) is for all of Shreveport to address development inequities, empty buildings, blighted areas, and empty lots. When Avaya and Mall St. Vincent closed their doors in Southern Hills it created a shift change for retail growth to the Southeast part of Shreveport. We are very under served in retail and services for North and Southwest Shreveport.
Madjun Ali It appears that time has brought about a change. Businesses have outgrown itself in one area and moves out into another area, but new businesses will come along and replace the ones that have moved to the Southeast Community.
Ed Bradley By implementing Community Development Corporation (CDC), privatelycapitalized funds that are designed for civic and public purpose.
Henry Hodge-Bey Get gang activity out of area.
Max Malone You do it with incentives, state and federal money, education and GOOD GOVERNMENT.
Businesses look for a number of things when making the decision on where to locate including demographics, spending patterns, traffic count and the like. Apparently if you are a Walgreens you also look for a Rite-Aid just across the street! Over the past eight years, the city made a number of attempts to spark interest in Southern Hills. Whenever a new business contacted the Mayor's office, they were sent information about property available along the Mansfield/Jewella corridor. If they were not to be swayed from Youree Drive, we encouraged them to open TWO locations, one on Youree and one on Mansfield or in North Shreveport. We worked hard to get Simon Properties to take an interest in Southpark Mall before it was too late and later, worked with Summer Grove Baptist Church so that at least the mall wouldn't be standing vacant. A mayor cannot force a business to move to a particular place but she can reason, cajole and offer some incentives.
Southern Hills has very active business and residential groups and that is a good, good start. They work hard at promoting Southern Hills. The residents of the area must also aggressively do business there, too. My husband and I loved the Jewella Books-a-Million store that recently closed. I can't tell you how many nights we would go there and be one of two or three people in the store. I can't believe that they were even able to pay the utilities on the space, and apparently, since they just closed, they weren't. I hate that. I liked that store and was willing to spend my money to keep it open. But Steve and I weren't enough! Believe me when I tell you that closing businesses are a self-perpetuating cycle. If enough businesses close in an area, other companies will simply avoid that area. We have to enable a climate conducive to business activity and one way to do that is to spend our dollars at those businesses. There is tremendous potential for that area since it is the corridor for folks traveling to and from Keithville who need groceries and other items, but the cyclical nature of the 'in' location has simply shifted, for the time being, to southeast Shreveport.
As Mayor I will continue to make certain that businesses coming in from outside know that area exists and there are needs for services and shops there. I will work with vacant business and property owners to offer property to new businesses for a lower cost so that even if fewer people shop there, they will make money based on the lower rent they are paying (that is an issue, too, believe it or not. I am told the rental rate on the old Pier One building next to Discount Building Materials is higher than rental you would pay in the Target Shopping Center on Youree Drive). I think our best opportunity for the corridor lies in our 'home-grown' businesses rather than waiting for national chains to bail us out. I will work with the Chamber and other economic developers to offer help to local businesses wanting to start or expand if they will move into certain targeted areas and I will always be on the lookout for the practices that are working in other cities dealing with this same issue... and all of them are.
It took a long time for the tide to turn on this area and it will not be an overnight fix to make it 'all right'. It's going to take consistent care over a period of time to show the area that it is a vital and integral part of the city's future.