Shreveport-Bossier fastest shrinking economy in nation?

Published: Feb. 4, 2014 at 10:58 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 18, 2014 at 11:09 AM CST
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SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - A recent article posted by "24/7 Wall St." claims Shreveport-Bossier is the "fastest shrinking economy in the nation."

That article has since gone viral on social media. Economic development groups in both Shreveport and Bossier argue against the article saying it's simply not the case.

The Shreveport-Bossier area has seen losses with General Motors' decision to close its doors putting close to 3,000 people out of a job. Something like this will have a negative impact on the local economies. But with loss comes gain according to the President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership Scott Martinez.

Martinez said the Shreveport-Bossier area had a huge spike in the economy when Haynesville Shale was performing well, while the rest of the nation was in a deep recession. Martinez said that spike helped the economy while General Motors was closing its doors.

"If you're looking at the things that we're doing to bounce back, with the Benteler Steel, with the Libbey Glass expansion, with the projects that we have in Minden that will have a regional impact, you can't say that our economy is on a downward swing. I think Shreveport and Bossier with some of the things that we're going to do in 2014 is going to be in an enviable position from an economic development perspective," Martinez said.

The article states growth in metro economies across the nation is accelerating, while close to 97 local economies across the nation are shrinking. The article states Shreveport-Bossier shrank more than 5-percent in recent years.

Across the Red River in Bossier, an area with a lot of growth, the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation Executive Director David "Rocky" Rockett has seen the businesses come in.

The casinos play a big part in the local economy, with Margaritaville opening its doors in July 2013. The Louisiana Boardwalk offers new shopping to the area, new restaurants, and more residential areas are sprouting up as a result of the economic development.

Rockett said he doesn't believe this article, stating the economy is slipping, is factual. He said he doesn't believe the article has legitimate research backing it up.

The Bossier economy is growing with the efforts to replenish the losses of General Motors and Haynesville Shale.

Rockett said there was a big loss back in 1989 and 1990 when the oil and gas industry bottomed out, but since then, the economy picked back up.

Between 2007 and 2010, the Bossier economy did well when the national economy suffered.

"I'd also challenge this statement by you see quite a bit of retail continuing to grow both in Shreveport and Bossier. Obviously those developers and retailers that live majority in major markets see something different that this area has. So I question the veracity of this study," Rockett said.

Rockett also said the Port can challenge this article with the additions that have been made to it last year with RonPak and Benteler Steel. The sequestration issues in the federal budget could have played a role in impacting the economy negatively with Barksdale Air Force Base and the civilian workers taking a hit last year because of the budget cuts.

But overall, Rocket and Martinez both said from their perspectives, the economies in Shreveport-Bossier are thriving.

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