GUEST COLUMN: Let’s keep our region’s future in perspective


Guest Commentary
The recent announcement by Sasol that they will delay a decision on their gas-to-liquids plant has created concern in some circles about the future of our announced industrial projects. Let’s put this in perspective.

The fi rst new project for Sasol is an $8.9 billion dollar ethane cracker unit. Final approval was given and construction is starting. This project alone will create 5,000 construction jobs and create 500 new high paying jobs. Last week a new $2 billion LNG facility was announced by Live Oak LNG.

Some of the announced projects may be pushed back and maybe one or two won’t happen due to world conditions and permitting delays. However, we will have additional unannounced new projects coming in their place. The fact remains that the largest growth in our history is beginning. Regions across our nation would give anything for the opportunities we have. A recent survey of nine southeastern states could fi nd only one project over $1 billion other than in Louisiana and Texas. There will be another major industrial project in Jeff Davis Parish this week and there are more to come.

Our region has at least 20 major economic driver projects under construction and another 22 publicly announced. Conservatively, more than $32 billion dollars in projects are under construction now. That is more than ever in our state. With this amount, our region leads the nation.

Announced projects pending fi nal approval total another $52 billion. About $1.2 billion in projects have been completed as of the end of last year. This all totals about $86 billion in expansions and new industry.

Southwest Louisiana has a diversifi ed economy. The petrochemical industry is fi rmly established. Health care remains our largest employment sector. We also have major aviation companies, and agriculture and forestry. The gaming and hospitality industry now employs more than 8,100 people.

For those who want to worry, here’s something for you. Our biggest challenge is for our Louisiana residents to get training and skills so they can fi ll the jobs that are coming. Please encourage family and friends, including those who have moved away to come home to Louisiana.

At the Alliance, we will focus on the future and the possibilities. We must seize the moment and create improvement in our quality of life so we can keep our young people here and attract new residents. Our area needs to ramp up preparation for our growth and implement recommendations in the Regional Impact Study which you can read at WWW.GOGROUPSWLA.COM? .

Now is the time take action to get ready for the future.

GEORGE SWIFT is president/CEO of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. Contact him at 337-433-3632 or .