Investors discuss improving lake area economy

Lake area investors met at Sulphur City Hall on Wednesday afternoon to discuss ideas on improving the economic future of southwest Louisiana.

The SWLA Economic Development Alliance is hosting different focus group meetings at various locations throughout the region.

The focus group offers business owners the opportunities to express their concerns with growth in their businesses.

According to the focus group poll, business leaders decided that the two areas of economic development that need the most improvement are workforce development and retention of business and jobs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Lake Charles metro has seen an increase of 1,300 jobs since the month of May.

While jobs are available in the lake area, the amount of skilled laborers does not match the demand for workers in southwest Louisiana.

"Attracting other businesses and more diversification here is important, but not as important as workforce development," said Dick Kennison, a business owner from Sulphur. "We need jobs here and we have people that need to be skilled to take these jobs."

The alliance also discussed the possibility of Vernon Parish joining Imperial Calcasieu. Some investors at Wednesday's focus group favored the idea.

"I think that would add close to 50 percent more populous to the region and to the alliance which is very important," Kennison said.

The SWLA Economic Development Alliance will host the last focus group on Thursday, June 23rd from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 120 West Pujo Street in Lake Charles.