SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — A new year means new assessments for economic development. And you need look no further than Shreveport-Bossier City as one area where at least some analysts expect 2020 to be one of growth.
Shreveport Economic Development Director Brandon Fail told KSLA News 12 this this week that “the outlook for 2020 is pretty bright in Shreveport.”
The city’s downtown area is just one example of recent success, he noted.
“We’ve seen a lot of small businesses just the past two years spring up. We’ve seen housing starts around downtown; and a lot of those are doing really well. We’re seeing that pick up steam," Fail continued.
"And I’ve seen and met with investors who are interested in downtown buildings, residential conversions.”
Among others who agree that 2020 looks strong for downtown Shreveport is Peter O’Neil, who manages The Missing Link restaurant.
“I think that it’s actually going to drive in more businesses as the success of local businesses, such as ours and others, continue to grow.”
While the forecast looks bright for downtown Shreveport and its economic development, there are other industries that could get a boost as well locally.
For example, Louisiana's second largest industry, agriculture, is seeing farmers struggling.
But now, one word sums up what kind of help they could get: hemp.
Fail explained it's all because this month Louisiana becomes the first to get federal approval of state industrial hemp.
“And industrial hemp is a really attractive opportunity. Among all the things you can grow on land, it tends to produce the most jobs and produce the most and produce the highest value .”
That’s welcome news to Louisiana farmers like Larry Fontenot, who was looking for some crop diversity.
"Adding a cash flow crop or resources that would enhance cash flow and this growing of hemp got us interested."
Improving Shreveport’s fortunes also means facing all those studies that rank Louisiana at or near the bottom for everything from quality of life to health.
Fail told us that one solution is to shift the focus from statewide numbers to local statistics, which often can paint a much different picture of what’s happening in Northwest Louisiana.
“It’s interesting you mention both quality of life and health," he said. "Along both of those dimensions, Shreveport and the Shreveport-Bossier area, in general, actually have very high ratings.”
Economic analysts tell KSLA News 12 that when you also factor in the very affordable housing costs, all the positive factors combined mean Shreveport-Bossier City, for the most part, sells itself.