LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - What's right and what's wrong in Southwest Louisiana when it comes to competing in the national economy? Some of the answers may be found in a highly acclaimed research company's "competitive snapshot" of the five parish area.
Leaders from all segments of the community gathered to hear the results of Market Street's study for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. CEO J. Mac Holladay presented the company's research of how the 5 parish area compares to other areas. "When we talk about this we talk in three areas: people, prosperity and place. The prosperity side is about the economic structure. The people, obviously, are the demographics and the socio economic conditions of the people and place is about what kind of place is it in terms of living and all those other pieces. This is not a multiple choice test. You have to get them all right. Because, I'll tell you that the entrepreneur that you want to capture, the person that you want to expand their company here or in fact the company that you may want to look at you is going to find the right place."
For the purposes of the study Southwest Louisiana is compared to Beaumont, Biloxi and Mobile areas and compares favorably when it comes to educational assets such as technical schools. Worker productivity is a plus. "Worker productivity is one of those things that you have kind of knocked out of the ballpark. This is in large part a combination of recovery in terms of people going back into high value jobs."
While the cost of living is lower, he says wages need to improve. "Doesn't make up for the fact that we need to get those wages up there," says Holladay.
Ultimately Market Street will help develop an action plan to help boost the region's ability to compete.
The SWLA Economic Development Alliance is expected to have more details of the report within the next few days.