SWLA Economy - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

SWLA Economy

By Adam Hooper - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - "There is probably some sense that we have avoided this problem. As it turns out, we haven't," said McNeese State University economics Professor, Doug McNiel.

Southwest Louisiana's economy is beginning to experience what the rest of the country has been going through all along.

"We are in a local downturn," said Doug McNiel.

The city of Lake Charles  has seen a decline in sales tax collections. According to city officials, this could force agencies, like the fire department and the police department, to make some cuts.

"In the event that we are asked to make some cuts, where those cuts would come from, where we could be more astute with our finances, we would look at removing some travel and things of that nature," said Sergeant Mark Kraus with the Lake Charles Police Department.

According to Sergeant Kraus, none of the cuts would affect protection services for the community, nor would it affect officer safety practices.

But the struggling economy is not just affecting local government agencies, higher education is also feeling the pinch.

"The deficits projected for the state of Louisiana are of pretty scary magnitudes," said Doug McNiel.

This leaves two options, raises taxes or cut the states budget.

"We are not going to raise taxes. We are going to force government to tighten its belt," said Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal.

McNeese State University has already made some cuts. According to economics professor Doug McNiel, they have worked hard to make sure the cuts did not not hurt the students. But, if more cuts come, the student may pay the price.

"We just know that the cuts taking place so far have taken all of the slack out of the system. So, anything else that comes, is going to have a very real affect," said Doug McNiel.

Some economists argue, since the national recession was slow at reaching southwest Louisiana, the positive changes will be delayed as well. But, there is some good news. Several local developments, already in the works, like Shaw Modular Solutions, the expansion of L'Auberge du Lac, and a government contract with Northrop Grumman could accelerate growth.

For more information on the economic trends in southwest Louisiana log on to www.mcneese.edu/drewecon

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