NLEP Unveils New Five Year Strategic Plan to Boost Regional Economy

MONROE – For the last three years, the North Louisiana Economics Partnership has worked to make North Louisiana a united front for potential employers.

At a meeting Thursday morning, the NLEP unveiled their 5-year ‘road map’ for economic success.

President Scott Martinez says they’ll focus on attracting Advanced Manufacturing, Professional and IT companies, as well as the people those companies hope to hire.

“This plan gives us a solid, workable framework to do that,” said Martinez.

Their 14-parish footprint goes from Caddo Parish in the West, Ouachita Parish in the East, as far south as Natchitoches Parish in the south, and everything in between.

“We want to make sure that the finite resources we have as an organization are being deployed in the most impactful way,” adds Martinez. “To our region and the communities we serve.”

Some say that region isn’t all encompassing.

State Representative Charles “Bubba” Chaney, (R- Rayville), says parts of North Louisiana are left out.

“The more rural, eastern part. The next parishes over from [Ouachita],” explains Chaney.

He says there’s room for collaboration with the rural development groups in those areas to create jobs east to the Mississippi, for people who desperately need them.

“These are people who know how to work, their work ethic is outstanding,” adds Chaney.

In West Monroe, economic development is everywhere.

“Construction here in Ouachita Parish is at an all-time high,” says Donnie Williams of Williams Brickwork.  He’s working on several area projects, including the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market on Cypress Street.

“There’s four new grocery stores, a couple of new hotels coming up, the Centurylink expansion,” adds Williams. “There are a couple of new car dealerships; the airport is adding on, ULM is growing.”

He says while construction is the face of growth, it’s the lasting effects that matter.

“When you see dirt turning over, buildings coming down and new buildings coming up, then you know that not only will there be a lot of new job openings, but the rate of hourly pay will go up, also.”

He says everything gets a boost, from the construction workers to the companies selling equipment and the fuel that goes in that equipment.

Since 2011, the NLEP says the 14-parish region has seen about $1.52 billion in capital investment, resulting in more than 4,700 jobs.

Momentum they hope continues.


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